We talk about nature-based solutions for climate change, but it’s not just about climate change – it’s about getting the benefits that support healthy ecosystems. This is crucial! Miss-applied nature-based solutions, such as tree planting, could potentially have a negative impact on flood risk. It’s imperative that we asses and identify the impact on biodiversity.
For example, planting native trees will often grow slower and absorb carbon more slowly than some non native species, but will provide other benefits, such as creating green spaces for the health and well-being of people. Alternatively, non-native eucalyptus or conifer plantations could be planted to absorb carbon quickly but have other issues that can negatively impact water or soil quality and biodiversity.
Any time we build anything, we impact its surrounding. So, to assess and implement the net gains for the environment at a project scale, WSP built a NATURE Tool that clarifies what will happen if nature is no longer there and what happens if it is. This open-sourced tool will help make future land use more sustainable and help the built environment sector play a more positive role by becoming a net contributor to tackling environmental issues.
For any project, it’s vital to understand the process or risk you’re trying to manage and then align the correct solution. This is a good time to think differently about solving problems and how we can do our jobs differently for less negative and more positive impact on the earth.
Nature-based solutions are not new, and we know we need to take the natural environment into account. Now businesses are starting to see this hit their bottom line and recognizing the risk associated. The thirst for NbS could increase as they can be a more cost-effective approach to addressing a range of social and environmental challenges.
Businesses are more receptive today, and there’s a massive shift in how governments, investors, stakeholders, and businesses view nature. We need to shift how we all see nature-based solutions to achieve our business and ESG goals.
The companies that don't take this seriously are going to be the ones that fail over the coming decades because they're simply ignoring risks to their own business and to the planet. These risks are interrelated.
At WSP, we are clear about designing places that are climate resilient, nature positive and future-ready, and support our people – a powerful and important mission for our planet.