Climate change has already begun to have negative impacts on the world’s environment, biomes, and ecosystems. Increases in the rate of extreme weather events and soil degradation, along with reductions in biodiversity, are just some of these impacts that have been observed across the world. Nature-based solutions use aspects of the Earth’s natural systems in favor of climate change mitigation. They include methods of sequestering carbon directly from the atmosphere and using nature to reduce numerous climate change-related impacts.
Wetlands, hillslopes, and anaerobic environments:
Trees and other types of vegetation can be used to absorb and sequester vast amounts of carbon directly from the atmosphere. Large-scale deforestation and afforestation programs are viewed as a vital method of achieving this. However, employing certain agricultural practices can also make an impact, such as lessening or preventing tillage, which keeps carbon locked in the soil, and using crops and other plants to absorb carbon from the atmosphere. Wetlands are also touted as a great method of sequestering carbon. Reeds and other plants absorb carbon from the atmosphere; the bottom layer of marshes and lakes is an anaerobic environment of deposited sediment, meaning that plants barely decompose. Therefore, all carbon remains at the bottom of wetland environments and is locked into peat which remains submerged for many years.
Nature-based solutions can also be used to mitigate specific and individual impacts of climate change, including extreme weather events, increased rates of desertification, and reductions in biodiversity. Establishing vegetation cover plays a huge role here. Severe floods are becoming increasingly common, and re-establishing forests in valleys and upland landscapes is a great way of reducing flood risk, with trees and undergrowth being very effective at slowing water runoff as it tumbles down a hillslope. Climate change mitigation is also important as large-scale change also threatens the biodiversity of many environments, with great threats to plant and animal populations. Creating a range of natural habitats, including large woodlands and wetlands, allows a greater number of animal and plant species to thrive.
Climate change mitigation is also required in terms of reducing the impact of severe weather – for example, natural solutions can be used to lessen the effects of heat waves. When the sun shines directly onto roads and other paved surfaces, they absorb the heat, contributing to the urban heat island effect. Trees cast large shadows, which subsequently reduce the amount of heat stored within an urban area after sunset, thus making cities a more bearable place to live. Re-opening watercourses such as rivers and canals, and creating new ponds in urban parks, also uses nature to reduce air temperature – the evaporation of open water decreases the temperature of the urban area bordering the waters.