Researchers at Wageningen have described how nature-based solutions could be used to make the Netherlands more sustainable. But what natural solutions are available to us? The researchers have grouped solutions into 10 categories, such as natural coastal defences and dynamic nature management.
The most high-profile example of a project using a nature-based solution is probably Room for the River. This intervention ensured that from 2007 onwards, rivers in the Netherlands were allocated more space, increasing their capacity to hold and discharge water. The project also supported the development of natural landscapes and recreational pursuits in the floodplains.
Various other measures that harness natural processes to improve our security, quality of life or biodiversity have already been in place for some time. In 1997, the organised breaching of the dune in Schoorl to let seawater in became a global news story. That project, De Kerf, has become known as an example of dynamic nature management. The intrusion of the salt water created an opportunity for rare plants such as orchids and parnassia to grow.
In the Nature-based Future Challenge more than 700 students from 147 universities on six continents get the chance to explore the potential of the nature-based thinking. Divided into interdisciplinary teams, they develop their nature-based vision for the Bangladesh and its Bengal delta. The Challenge is organized by Wageningen University & Research in collaboration with the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research, University Fund Wageningen, and a network of over 20 other organisations with expertise on water, climate, and nature-based solutions.
This kind of nature-based solution, in which natural processes support the development of saline plants and sand replenishment, is now happening at a number of different sites along the coast of the Netherlands. In 2015, the Hondsbossche Dunes were created by spraying 30 million cubic metres of sand at the site of the existing Hondsbossche sea dyke. The objective was to combine coastal defences with the development of the natural environment and recreation.
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What objectives can we achieve through the use of nature-based solutions?
Daan Verstand, a researcher in climate adaptation for rural areas at WUR, worked with fellow researchers to identify 10 categories and he published these in a catalog. Projects have already been established under all 10 categories, but many more are also being developed.