The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have proposed a new conservation paradigm to address climate change and biodiversity loss which will benefit quality of life for human populations. This proposed conservation paradigm will effectively protect and enhance various ecosystems, including forests, peatlands, wetlands, tropical forests, freshwater systems, grasslands, savannas, some polar habitats and coastal ecosystems. The IPCC/ IPBES workshop report stipulates that nature-based solutions only abate climate change and biodiversity loss if they have aggressive targets and are implemented in conjunction with ambitious greenhouse gas reductions. Nature-based solutions, the conservation and enhancement of natural and managed ecosystems, will be a key driver for climate change mitigation.
What Are Nature-Based Solutions?
Protecting and enhancing ecosystems can help reverse the impacts of climate change by lowering greenhouse concentrations (through carbon sequestration), thereby limiting global average heat temperature rise, decreasing the frequency of extreme weather events and curbing the effects of ocean acidification. Properly managing ecosystems can also help restore biodiversity loss.
Species with restricted population distributions, those that have tolerance limits and those that have limited abilities to migrate to new habitats are considered to be most susceptible to climate change, according to the IPCC/ IPBES Workshop Report (page 17). Tropical coral reefs, savannas, tropical forests, high latitude and altitude ecosystems, Mediterranean-like ecosystems and coastal ecosystems are considered to be the most vulnerable ecosystems. Such ecosystems are already being affected by climate change.
Why Are Nature-Based Solutions Important?
Nature-based solutions are cost effective, can be rapidly employed, make ecosystems more resilient to the consequences of climate change and provides benefits for humanity. Benefits for communities of human populations include food security increases, job opportunities in ecosystem management and protection against floods (as is the case with coral reefs and coastal communities). Nature based solutions will call for changes in land-use. Monoculture plots will have to converted to diverse ecosystems (as single species plantations increase pathogen risks in plants), land clearing will have to significantly limited or reversed and ecosystem conservation will have to be prioritized on land and in aquatic environments. The technology already exists for nature-based solutions, it comes in the form of natural ecosystems, both natural and managed and the species that occupy them.