By Houmi Ahamed-Mikidache
«Getting the message right on nature-based solutions to climate change” is a new research published recently by the University of Oxford. What is the outcome ? Nature based solutions can play a key role in tacking climate change and nature crises, while delivering other benefits for people. But local communities should be at the forefront.
How to avoid pitfalls?
The research explains how to deliver successful Nature Based Solutions and avoid potential pitfalls. The UK paper underlines that Nature Based Solutions can deliver multiple benefits for people and nature. For example, coastal mangroves or coral reefs can protect from storm surges, urban green spaces help to cool cities, and improving soil health can help farmers adapt to droughts.
According to Professor Nathalie Seddon, lead author of the article , Nature Based solutions emerged in the late 2000s as a move away from conserving nature for its own sake to conserving nature for people’s sake and they currently have huge traction in business and government. But the target turns to change in a different manner. «Most of the recent limelight has been on tree planting for carbon sequestration – and often these trees are commercial plantations of non-native species with little benefit for biodiversity», said Alison Smith from Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute and first author of the article.
She concludes: «Although it is vital to protect a diverse mix of carbon-rich and bio-diverse native ecosystems, such as old-growth forests, natural grasslands and wetlands, there is a limit to the carbon that can be stored by newly planted trees – and this carbon is at risk if trees are harvested or if they die from fire, drought or disease as the climate continues to warm.”
Professor Seddon emphasises that Nature Based Solutions must be designed and implemented in partnership with local communities, with an equitable sharing of the benefits.
«Poorly designed projects sometimes ignore the rights of local people to govern their natural resources, undermining the legitimacy and long-term success of the project,» she specifies.
The Oxford paper concludes that to have robust and resilient Nature Based Solutions, policymakers practitioners and researchers should involve local communities in a way that respects their cultural and ecological rights. Nature Based Solutions is seen as a key role to overcome the destructive global economy due to COVID 19 through the identification of the social and ecological well being these actions bring.
Will the UK push for NBS concrete actions at COP26?
This new research was published this week in the journal Global Change Biology. It provides guidelines on successful sustainable nature based solutions sent to the UK government in january 2020 and these actions should be formally adopted by the UK government at COP 26.The UK government will host COP 26 in Glasgow in december 2021. Last year november, the UK hosted a climate change conference where Nature Based Solutions were at the forefront of the debate. This subject has also been discussed on the agenda at Davos recently.
By Houmi Ahamed-Mikidache