Nature-based solutions (NbS) are one type of carbon project you can choose to support when offsetting your carbon footprint, along with community-based projects and renewable energy projects. Carbon offsetting projects work to reduce, capture, or avoid a proportional amount of CO2 emissions to the amount that you’re offsetting.
The generally agreed-upon definition of nature-based climate projects comes from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Nature-based solutions are those which work to ‘protect, sustainably manage, and restore natural or modified ecosystems’ and which ‘address societal challenges effectively and adaptively, simultaneously providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits’.
So what does that actually mean? As the planet gets warmer, humans are increasingly looking toward solutions that already exist in nature to manage climate change.
From protecting biodiverse areas from further reduction and restoring areas that have already been affected by human activities, NbS harness the power of our planet to address the most pressing issues we face in society.
Nature-based projects can protect and enhance ecosystems which naturally capture CO2 emissions. For example, forests naturally bind carbon when they’re growing, and protecting moorland avoids the release of greenhouse gases to begin with.
And, this type of solution has massive potential. Some studies have estimated that NbS have the potential to mitigate 10-12 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent (GtCO2e) per year if scaled and properly implemented worldwide.
Along with the incredible potential to reduce carbon emissions, there are a number of additional benefits that nature-based climate projects provide. They’re affordable and scalable, and have benefits for humans as well, for example improving health and wellbeing by improving air quality.
Because of the abundance of benefits, NbS have recently become more popular climate solutions among various industries.
Nature-based climate solutions are increasingly recognised as effective, cost-efficient climate management tools, while also addressing societal issues such as food and water security and human health.
Some critics claim that the growing popularity of nature-based solutions, when combined with the ambiguity around the term, can potentially result in greenwashing or even the funding of potentially harmful activities. This is why it’s vitally important to fund only verified projects of the highest quality and with a proven impact.
Learn more about the different types of nature-based solutions below:
Today, over 50% of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and this number is only expected to increase.
Cities offer a range of challenges—spatially and otherwise—so urban NbS have to be creative to create the most impact. Nature-based climate solutions can be anything from more parks for recreation and green walls on buildings, to developing greener and healthier public transportation and creating more bike lanes.
When nature-based solutions are applied to cities, not only is there a benefit for global carbon levels, but also for the 4.2 billion humans who live in urban areas. The results of urban NbS include cleaner air and water, more and better natural habitats and biodiversity in cities, reduced temperatures in cities, and a higher quality of life for residents.
Restoring forests, improving the management of existing forests, and growing trees on degraded or agricultural land can help mitigate rising global temperatures. As trees and other forest plants grow, they absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and store it in living plants, dead organic matter and soils.
Protecting and restoring forests also has the potential to help humans adapt to climate change by increasing water quality and availability, reducing flooding, preventing landslides and providing food in times of shortage.
Agricultural nature-based solutions
At the moment, more than 50% of the Earth’s habitable land is used for agricultural production. Agriculture nature-based solutions take advantage of this large amount of land and the potential for soil to retain carbon as they produce crops.
Many agriculture NbS aim to contribute to CO2 reductions, while also benefiting the environment in other ways, such as with improved sustainable land and water management.
The oceans of the world are instrumental in managing global temperature and climate changes. It’s estimated that between 1994 and 2007, oceans absorbed 31% of CO2 that humans emitted during that time. You may have heard the term ‘blue carbon’, which describes the carbon that is captured by the world’s marine and coastal ecosystems and oceans.
Coastal, marine, and ocean nature-based solutions are based on the ability of these ecosystems to capture and store CO2. These types of nature-based solutions can include shoreline stabilisation, protecting and increasing wild plants and animals living underwater, and developing sustainable fishing and harvesting of water resources.
Peatlands, a type of wetland, cover 3% of the Earth’s land surface and are the largest natural terrestrial carbon store. They contain about 25% of all global soil carbon, twice as much as the Earth’s forests. Peatlands protect biodiversity, minimise flood risks, help ensure safe drinking water, and more.
At the moment, damaged peatlands are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, responsible for almost 5% of global human-generated CO2 emissions. By protecting and restoring peatland, we can significantly reduce global carbon emissions.
With a growing momentum for nature-based solutions, it’s important to continue investing in them to develop innovative technologies and scale existing impactful projects.
At CHOOOSE, we provide our partners access to nature-based projects, community-based projects, and renewable energy projects that protect the people and the planet.
Our partners can choose the projects that most align with their sustainability and corporate objectives, and even offer their customers the opportunity to support these solutions as well.