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Nature-based solutions, such as tree planting and implementing “sponge cities”, play a crucial role in combating the effects of the climate crisis. These approaches utilize natural elements and systems to help mitigate and adapt to the changing climate.

The earth’s natural ecosystems are crucial to the survival and prosperity of human society all around the globe. Whether it be oceans, rainforests, grasslands, or mangrove swamps, these natural environments support billions of people by providing food, water, and materials for shelter. With the increasing temperatures on our planet, experts are calling for a focus on preserving and restoring nature in order to sustain a livable world.

Can you explain what a nature-based solution is?

Nature-based solutions is an umbrella term for using the power of nature to mitigate the impact of climate change while benefiting biodiversity and human wellbeing. There are thousands of examples: planting trees to shield buildings from heat; restoring wetlands to create “sponge cities” that protect people from flooding; planting mangroves to hold back storm surges in coastal regions.

Experts claim that they are an affordable and neglected solution for safeguarding mankind against the environmental challenges of the modern era. They can also enhance food and water safety, promote human well-being, and provide protection for communities against severe weather conditions.

What is the purpose for requiring them?

The Paris accord not only aims to restrict global warming, but also involves promises to address and adapt to a warmer world, which will experience more frequent and severe occurrences of floods, droughts, and powerful storms due to increased levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from the use of fossil fuels.

One way nature can protect us from severe consequences is through its natural processes. For instance, in various regions, precipitation patterns are becoming unpredictable, resulting in periods of excessive rain or drought. Utilizing nature to store more water in the environment, such as by enlarging wetlands or reintroducing beavers near cities to regulate water flow with their dams, can increase our ability to withstand both dry spells and floods.

Why is biodiversity important?

Scientists are cautioning that the actions of humans are causing the sixth major extinction event on Earth, endangering 1 million species. As a result, the planet’s ability to sustain human life and health is being depleted.

Resilient and complete ecosystems, as defined, contain a diverse array of plants, animals, and other organisms that are absent in their degraded and simplified counterparts. For instance, a monoculture plantation of trees supports significantly less biodiversity, stores less carbon, and offers fewer environmental advantages when compared to an ancient forest that has been thriving for centuries.

Ensuring the preservation of a complete ecosystem can often be the most simple and efficient solution, as climate solutions that do not utilize the full diversity of nature may be less impactful and yield fewer advantages.

Forest fires in Portugal.

There are numerous instances that illustrate the significance of biodiversity and its potential applications. In the rural areas of Portugal, where non-native eucalyptus plantations have taken over the landscape and caused destructive wildfires, local communities are now planting native tree and plant species that have a slower burning rate near their towns and villages. This is being done to mitigate damage and protect residents from potential fires in the future.

What level of assistance can they provide?

The natural world has a crucial impact on reducing and adjusting to the climate emergency. Each year, the Earth’s oceans and land soak up over half of the greenhouse gases emitted by humans, and scientists believe they could potentially do even more as efforts are made to decrease carbon emissions. However, their capacity to do so is in danger due to the effects of climate change, which puts large rainforests like the Amazon at risk of destruction.

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A recent research on global forests revealed that allowing them to grow old and rehabilitating damaged ecosystems could absorb emissions equivalent to 50 years of those produced by the United States. However, there are important considerations to keep in mind: the researchers warn against relying on mass tree-planting using monoculture techniques and utilizing them as carbon offsets, as these methods may not maximize the potential of forests. Additionally, there are unknown factors in how the environment will respond to a warmer Earth.

Can nature-based solutions serve as a substitute for reducing emissions?

Climate change poses a significant risk to both our natural environment and the loss of biodiversity. As we continue to release greenhouse gases, the ability of nature to aid in our adaptation and mitigation efforts against global warming will likely decline.

What will their role be at Cop28?

Several nations are incorporating nature into their efforts to meet the Paris agreement goal of keeping global warming below 2C above pre-industrial levels. Businesses of all sizes are investing in nature-based solutions to fulfill their sustainability objectives, which they often showcase at the annual climate conference.

During Cop28, there will be designated days focused on both nature and food. These days will showcase the importance of nature and nature-based solutions.

Source: theguardian.com