The Case for Nature-based Solutions
February 12, 2021
By Mani Oliva, C.E.O.
Recently, President Biden issued an Executive Order to raise the level of our ambition to fight climate change. This Executive Order recognizes the urgent need as well as the short time-frame we have to act. Therefore, the Executive Order creates a roadmap of how the federal government will take on a leadership role domestically and will engage as a committed global community member in our collective effort to fight climate change. Among the various principal elements in the Executive Order, such as collaboration with the ongoing work of state, local and Tribal governments and a focus on strong environmental justice, was a recognition of the importance of nature-based solutions.
Our planet is made up of complex and interlinked ecosystems supporting many species that collectively contribute to a healthy natural system that is fundamental for our health and wellbeing. These ecosystems play a critical role in sustaining the quality of the air, water and soils, which also support the most basic needs of human life such as food, fresh water and shelter. As the effects of climate change continue to increase, these systems will further deteriorate, which directly impacts the health of all wildlife and human communities.
Nature-based solutions, simply put, are actions using natural systems that provide multiple benefits to address societal or environmental problems. One powerful example is the restoration of tidal marshes as an effective way to protect coastal communities from damage due to sea level rise and increasingly powerful storm surges. These restored tidal marshes also serve as important wildlife habitat, help refresh groundwater systems, support important food systems, and store large amounts of carbon, as well as offer other important cultural, economic and recreational benefits to local communities. Applying nature-based solutions within our agricultural systems can also offer significant multiple benefits. For example, working in partnership with landowners to increase the soil health of grazing lands allows these lands to be more productive, restore freshwater aquifers, support greater biodiversity and store carbon.
One powerful action with multiple important benefits.
Nature-based solutions can be applied within the ocean, on coastal systems, on forests, on farms and even within urban settings. Because the implementation of these solutions can offer many challenges or significant changes to well-established systems, such as shifting a road to restore a tidal marsh, they must be developed collaboratively with local communities to ensure that they are also supportive of their social and economic needs. As an organization, Point Blue has a long history of partnering with local communities to research and implement ambitious nature-based solutions across California that carefully balance the needs of wildlife and humans. You can see examples of some of our nature-based solutions work on shorelines here, on working lands here, and in restoration here.
Today we have the opportunity to connect the new ambition of the federal government with the impressive work already underway in California by government, environmental and social organizations and local communities to raise the potential of nature-based solutions to fight climate change, protect wildlife and support the wellbeing of all human communities.