The impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss are already keenly felt by communities around the world. WSP is leading projects that are challenging traditional approaches and demonstrating how nature-based solutions can bring vital benefits both in terms of climate resilience and biodiversity. Many of these innovative projects are helping to bridge the innovation chasm by scaling up pilot projects into the mainstream. To achieve a fundamental shift to work with nature rather than in opposition to nature will require more than boldness and creativity. It will require a conscientious break from standard practices to evolve innovative solutions into the new standard.
For example, WSP is designing a living shoreline for a 20-km segment of Highway Franklin 98 that traverses Apalachicola Bay on the Florida panhandle. The project, which contrasts markedly with the concrete used in the majority of global coastal infrastructure, will involve establishing an intertidal marsh through the introduction of oyster reefs to attenuate wave energy. The project will not only serve to enhance ecological functions of coastal habitats and help restore the hard-hit oyster fishery, but also help mitigate chronic erosion of the adjacent Highway 98, which serves as a hurricane evacuation route.
In New Zealand, we have been involved in the Te Awa River Ride, linking Ngāruawāhia to Lake Karāpiro. In addition to offering accessible and scenic walking and cycle trails along the Waikato River for recreational purposes, the new 65-km cycle way provides a viable commuter link for people moving between the towns of Ngaruawahia, Hamilton and Cambridge. As part of the construction, the team have been replacing exotic pest species with native trees to boost biodiversity along the route.
In addition, we are designing tools to help clients immediately assess any project that affects land-use or management. Developers in England will soon be legally required to quantify and mitigate the biodiversity impact of their projects. WSP in the UK has been integral to the development and uptake of Natural England’s biodiversity metric to measure net gain, in readiness for this requirement. Building on this we have worked with the Ecosystems Knowledge Network and Northumbria University to develop the NATURE Tool that assesses the impact a project will have on the goods, services and benefits we get from nature.