Urbanising Nature-based Solutions
Nature-based solutions (NbS) rely on the interactions and relationships that exist within natural ecosystems to provide us with multiple advantages. Where humanity once destroyed and exploited the environment to extract resources, rare and trace metals, and space for gray infrastructure and agriculture, now lays the support and need for restorative environments that recreate the biological function of pre-existing ecosystems. These restored territories that enrich flora and fauna come with benefits to the general well-being of humans such as the reduction and absorption of greenhouse gases (GHGs) that drive climate change, improved air quality and microclimate regulation, improved water retention, and enhanced food security. Studies have also shown the positive influence of NbS in improving both physical and mental health amongst communities that reside close to them, as they provide benefactors with spaces to actively enjoy and connect with nature.
As the population of the planet and the acceleration of urbanisation is exponentially increasing, particularly along coastal regions, humans migrated away from natural green areas in preference of grey infrastructure –which is produced from rock, cement, and metal. This redefined many features of an individual’s lifestyle including their choice of habitat and shelter, their food and water sources, their mobility, and their productivity. This migration also redefined humanity’s relationship with nature as access to green environments was limited in favour of grey ones. Yet, in the wake of climate change and sustainability movements, and the emergence of NbS as climate solutions, these grey spaces are now platforms of transformation for what is known as ‘urban nature-based solutions. Rather than restricting NbS to restored ecosystems away from cities and urban regions, green spaces are now being developed and restored within urban areas, allowing huge urban populations to enjoy their benefits without concerns for accessibility.