Right now, the world has its fair share of problems. Conflict and climate change are combining to create an atmosphere of instability that, at the very least, is affecting the well-being of millions around the globe. But while nature is unlikely to have much influence on conflict, it does have a direct influence on climate change and the effects of that change, as well the health of everyone on the planet.

The power of nature to combat the effects of climate change while improving biodiversity and human health is summed up by the umbrella term of nature-based solutions (NBS). Whether it’s planting more trees in city centers to shield people and buildings from heat, restoring wetlands to provide flood protection, or even reintroducing beavers near urban areas so their dams can stem the flow of water, NBS provide a cost-effective way to increase the world’s resilience to increased heat, flooding and drought.

Unlike engineered flood protection or reservoirs, NBS are carbon-positive and require little ongoing maintenance.

The benefits of nature-based solutions

The recognized standard of nature-based solutions is the IUCN Global Standard of Nature-based Solutions, which defines them as “actions to protect, sustainably manage, and restore natural and modified ecosystems that address societal challenges effectively, simultaneously benefiting people and nature.”

While NBS certainly have many benefits for nature, such as the improvement of biodiversity and the protection of threatened species, the crucial factor is that they are focused on indigenous people and local communities. Billions of people around the world rely on nature for their survival, and their knowledge can be crucial to the success of any project.

What NBS offer is an environmental answer to many of the challenges created by climate change. Those challenges include:

  • Food security: NBS ensure that people have enough safe and nutritious food for a healthy life.
  • Water security: Effective access to safe water while protecting against disasters and preserving ecosystems.
  • Health and well-being: The reduction of disease transfer caused by the destruction of habitats as well as improving mental and physical health.
  • Disaster risk reduction: Preventing hazards and strengthening resilience to climate-related disasters.
  • Climate change mitigation: Reducing atmospheric carbon and reversing the impacts of climate change.

World Land Trust

One organization that has NBS at its core is World Land Trust (WLT). Working in partnership with Carbon Balanced Paper, WLT works with local partners to preserve vital areas of land threatened by deforestation and agricultural conversion. Since its launch in 1989, WLT has directly funded the purchase of over 2.4 million acres of land, which has enabled its partners to leverage further funding to preserve over 5.5 million acres.

As well as protecting threatened land, WLT also has an extensive tree-planting program, and has now planted almost 2.5 million native trees alongside established forests. Those trees not only provide a natural habitat for the animal and plant species, but a natural source of food, shelter, and employment for local communities.

“The crises facing our natural world require a multi-faceted response,” said Dr Catherine Barnard. CEO of WLT. “That’s why WLT funds community-led conservation initiatives, habitat restoration, carbon offsetting, wildfire management, and wildlife monitoring.”

For more information on Carbon Balanced Paper, go to www.carbonbalancedpaperna.com

For more information on World Land Trust, go to www.worldlandtrust.org

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