A new study has called for increased focus on nature-based solutions to the challenges posed by climate change.
The ‘Measuring the success of climate change adaptation and mitigation in terrestrial ecosystems’ study, published in the Science journal, was jointly conducted by Natural England, the British Trust for Ornithology, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), Climate Resilience Ltd, the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology; and the University of Stellenbosch. Its key findings highlighted the need to adopt nature-based solutions to issued linked to climate change, such as the natural restoration of ecosystems: reforestation and habitat restoration have been shown to have a mitigating effect on emissions levels, with forested land in particular acting as a carbon sink.
Dr Mike Morecroft, lead author of the study and Principal Specialist of Climate Change at Natural England said: “Nature-based solutions should be at the forefront of international efforts to tackle climate change. Natural forests, peatlands and other wild places need to be protected and restored to stop greenhouse gas emissions and take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. The great thing about nature-based solutions is that as well as reducing emissions, they also build the resilience of ecosystems, protect biodiversity and provide a wide range of benefits of people.”
Dr Morecrofe continued: “It is important to do the right thing in the right place. For example restoring forests where they once grew is great, but planting trees, where there wouldn’t naturally have been trees, such as many of our upland bogs in the UK or in tropical savannas can be very damaging and counterproductive. We need a clear understanding of what constitutes success when we manage the land to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This needs to take account of the need to also adapt to climate change that is already happening, protect biodiversity and meet the needs of people.”