Case Studies

Human communities have been working with nature for millennia to buffer the impacts of environmental change. We must learn from them and ensure that their knowledge informs policy and practice around the world. On this page you will find some real-life examples of when working with nature is helping local people deal with the impacts of climate change, as well as improving ecosystem health and storing carbon. For a wider selection of best-practice case studies, please visit our interactive global map of nature-based solutions.

Nature-based Solutions for Economic Recovery

Nature-based solutions can provide strong financial and well-being benefits for local communities and nations. They have been identified as one of the most efficient forms of economic recovery in the wake of COVID-19. Here we have selected a few examples of NbS projects which have delivered substantial benefits for local people in the form of goods, income, employment, and overall well-being, making them less vulnerable to both climatic impacts and societal instability.

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01 Nature-based Solutions in Latin America and the Caribbean

A new Nature-based Solutions (NbS) Valuation Report by Northeastern University and UNDP on climate-informed cost-benefit analysis in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region has recently been released. Over the last decade, UNDP has worked with [...] Read more
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02 Ecosystem-based adaptation in Lake Victoria Basin, Kenya

A recent paper by Agol et al. in Royal Society Open Science explores the role of Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) in reconciling socio-economic development with the conservation and restoration of nature in Lake Victoria Basin, Kenya, [...] Read more
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03 Scottish Highlands landscape restoration at Bunloit

This landscape-scale programme will restore 1200 acres of land to boost biodiversity, enhance carbon stores, and provide sustainable livelihoods for local people. Sustainable businesses will provide employment and affordable zero-carbon housing will be constructed from [...] Read more
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04 Mangrove restoration in Costa Rica

A pilot mangrove restoration project in Costa Rica has demonstrated how mangrove planting can benefit habitat and species conservation, whilst also boosting the local economy. About 40% of Costa Rica’s mangroves were deforested following the collapse [...] Read more
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05 Marine Protected Areas in Vanuatu

Flexible management of marine protected areas around the Pacific Island of Vanuatu, has increased food security and income for local people during times of shortage. Vanuatu is highly vulnerable to natural hazards such as cyclones, [...] Read more
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06 Assisted Natural Regeneration in Burkina Faso

Assisted Natural Regeneration (ANR) in Burkina Faso has improved provision of forest products for local people. ANR, in this case, involves construction of fences around areas of savanna, excluding grazing animals and allowing natural forest [...] Read more
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07 Market-oriented agroforestry in Nepal

Introduction of market-oriented agroforestry increased income and reduced poverty in Nepalese communities. Food insecurity is a pervasive problem in Nepal; in 2010, 42 of the 75 districts were food deficit. One response to food insecurity [...] Read more

Coastal Nature-based Solutions

Coastal ecosystems such as coral and shellfish reefs, seagrass meadows, mangrove forests and salt marshes act as physical barriers to waves, reducing the impact they have on the shore. In this way they can reduce coastal flooding and erosion;  it’s estimated that 35% of people that are exposed to coastal floods benefits from nature-based storm surge mitigation.  They also support biodiversity and fisheries, and sequester lots of carbon. Read more.

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01 Coastal mangrove restoration using a community ecosystem-based adaptation approach

The Community Based Adaptation to Climate Change through Coastal Afforestation (CBACC-CF) program is the first Bangladesh National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) project under the GEF-UNDP portfolio, implemented by the Government of Bangladesh in four [...] Read more
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02 Coastal Wetland restoration in the UK and France

In a joint project between the EU programme Interreg FCE and the Environment Agency, Project PACCo (Promoting Adaptation to Changing Coasts) will restore 100 hectares of coastal wetland at two pilot sites – the Otter [...] Read more
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03 Seagrass Restoration in the UK

Seagrass meadows are highly degraded in the UK, with up to 92% of historical cover lost. 2021 has seen the first ever major seagrass restoration project in England, marking the start of the UN Decade [...] Read more
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04 Mangrove protection in India

Mangrove forests in eastern India were shown to protect villages and crops from flooding during a cyclone with 260km/hr winds and a 9m storm surge. The mangroves had been protected from deforestation and overexploitation since [...] Read more
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05 Salt marshes in the Dutch Wadden Sea

The Dutch coast is protected from flooding by long dikes – earthen embakments along the shore that act as barriers to waves. Saltmarsh has been constructed on the seaward side of 25km of dike. To [...] Read more
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06 Oyster reefs in Bangladesh and the Gulf of Mexico

Oyster reefs provide a barrier to waves, protecting coasts from the impact of storms and reducing erosion and flooding. However, about 85% of natural oyster reefs have been lost due to harvesting by humans. Artificial [...] Read more
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07 Mangroves protected communities from Cyclone Bulbul

Evidence is emerging that the Sundarbans Mangrove Forest protected communities in India and Bangladesh from some of the worst impacts of Cyclone Bulbul on November 9th 2019. The forest is reported to have reduced wind [...] Read more

Montane Nature-based Solutions

In the mountains, protecting and restoring native vegetation on slopes can help prevent or reduce the effects of landslides and erosion while protecting communities downstream from the effects of floods. At the same time, working with nature in this way stores carbon and protects both biodiversity and local livelihoods, as shown in these community-led projects.

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01 Participatory watershed management in Yunnan province, China

Green Watershed is an environmental NGO based in China that works to maximise the potential for sustainable, integrated watershed development. Also known as the Yunnan Green Watershed Management Research and Promotion Centre, the NGO promotes [...] Read more
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02 Indigenous council practices community-based conservation and natural resource management

An indigenous council representing the communities of an exceptionally biodiverse region of the central Tropical Andes has successfully gained a collective title to manage several hundred thousand hectares of land. The Consejo Indígena del Pueblo Tacana [...] Read more
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03 Landscape management in the Scottish Highlands

This is one of several projects from Trees for Life, which envisions restoration of the Scottish Highlands to enable both nature and local communities to thrive. The project follows the ‘conviction that nature, people and [...] Read more
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04 Coffee farm restoration and infiltration ditches to prevent flooding in El Salvador

Climate change is increasing the intensity of storms in El Salvador, causing erosion, landslides and flooding. The capital city, San Salvador, suffers especially badly from flooding due to the dominance of impervious surfaces and hence [...] Read more
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05 Community forests in Nepal

Many community forest projects have been set up in Nepal. A study of 105 of these found that they have been broadly successful for both increasing carbon sequestration and providing social benefits. The projects have [...] Read more
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06 Cairngorms Connect – large-scale restoration in Scotland

This is an ambitious project with a 200-year vision to manage 600 square kilometres of the Cairngorms National Park in Scotland for biodiversity whilst providing other benefits such as carbon storage and livelihoods for local [...] Read more
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07 Landscape restoration in the Lake District UK

Working in collaboration with United Utilities, the RSPB is managing the Haweswater watershed in the Lake District National Park to achieve the joint aims of boosting biodiversity, supporting local enterprise and improving water quality. So [...] Read more
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08 Restoring ancient water supplies in Peru

A community-based NbS project in the Peruvian Andes improved water provisioning whilst permitting grazing of livestock, and has sparked funding and interest in ecosystem-based water management in Peru. An ancient mamenteo canal was restored: a [...] Read more
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09 Montane Ecosystem-based Adaptation in Uganda

Near the Mount Elgon National Park in 2014-15, about 600 households received training in Ecosystem-based Adaptation measures to implement themselves. A number of different approaches were used, notably creation of trenches, ridges and dams to [...] Read more

Lowland Nature-based Solutions

Nature-based solutions also have much to offer in lowland landscapes. Here flood mitigation is of great importance, alongside multiple other benefits like biodiversity conservation and carbon storage.

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01 River restoration for natural flood management in Eddleston Water, Scotland

The Eddleston Water project, funded by the Scottish Government and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), is investigating the effectiveness of natural flood management (NFM) techniques and habitat restoration measures at a catchment scale. The river [...] Read more
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02 Peatland restoration to protect water supplies in the Garron Plateau

Activities to restore the Garron Plateau in Country Antrim, containing the largest area of peat bog in Northern Ireland began in 2010 after 95% of the bog had been degraded. The peatland area of the [...] Read more
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03 New Community Forest in the North East of England

A new Community Forest in the North East of England has been announced by Defra, England Community Forests and local councils, to bring people closer to nature in the region. The initiative will bring together six local authorities [...] Read more
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04 Stormwater management in Norway’s abandoned airport

Fornebu airport, near Oslo, was abandoned in 1998 and has since been transformed into a multifunctional green space that reduces flooding, purifies water and boosts biodiversity, whilst also being a site for recreation, and residential [...] Read more
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05 Restoring degraded land in Kenya

Regreening Kenya is a project aiming to bring over 150,000 hectares of degraded land into restoration by 2022 and improve the livelihoods of 50,000 smallholders. The project has a community-centred approach, by which farmers are [...] Read more
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06 Rewilding UK farmland to address nitrate pollution

Mudflats, saltmarshes and seagrass on the south coast of the UK have received high loads of nitrogen and phosphorus for decades, from wastewater pollution, urban runoff and agricultural discharge. This has led to habitats being [...] Read more
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07 Sustainable wetland management in Bangladesh

The Tanguar Haor wetland in Bangladesh provides a striking example of how decades of poor ecological management and violation of people’s rights can be turned around with dedicated collaborations of governments, NGOs and local people, [...] Read more
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08 Peatland restoration in Belarus

Balarus is leading the way for peat restoration in Europe. Peatlands cover about 23% of the country, but most of it is degraded or drained. The country’s peatlands have long been seen primarily as a [...] Read more
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09 Forest regeneration in Ethiopia

The township of Humbo in Ethiopia had lost most of its surrounding forests by the late 1960s, but a recent initiative is turning this around. 2700 hectares of degraded native forest have been restored since [...] Read more
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010 Restoring grassland in England

The re-conversion of winter cereal fields into grassland contributed to the cessation of winter floods in a downstream housing estate in the South Downs of England. In the mid-1980s grassland in the catchment was converted [...] Read more
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011 Rehabilitating rangelands in Kenya

Land degradation is a widespread problem in Sub-Saharan Africa, with the majority of agricultural soil being degraded. One of the main causes of degradation is overgrazing, but this can be combated by use of enclosures [...] Read more

Nature-based Agriculture

There are a wide range of agricultural practices that take advantage of biodiversity and ecosystem services to help increase the ability of crops or livestock to adapt to climate change. They include on-farm practices such as using mulching or local species as cover crops to help maintain soil structure, planting of trees as windbreaks, and management of trees in agroforestry (trees and crops) or silvopastoral systems (trees and livestock). At the landscape scale, they include managing tree cover, especially along rivers, to improve water provisioning, or increasing the heterogeneity of agricultural landscapes in order to reduce the severity of disease outbreaks and improve pollination services.

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01 Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration in Ghana

The Talensi District is located in the environmentally fragile dryland area of northern Ghana, where almost 80% of the population works in agriculture, fisheries and forestry. Climate change, land clearing and unsustainable agricultural practices are [...] Read more
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02 Integrated farming & forestry in Guatemala

An integrated nature-based farming and forestry approach in Guatemala has increased the resilience of local people to change, as shown by their better ability to cope with the implications of COVID-19 than communities without such [...] Read more
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03 Floating Agriculture in Bangladesh

Floating agriculture is a traditional practice in Bangladesh, which is now spreading between communities, allowing farmers to maintain or increase agricultural productivity in the face of increased monsoon season flooding. It involves weaving together aquatic [...] Read more
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04 Cocoa Agroforestry in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone’s tropical rainforest is under threat from intensive agriculture, mining, logging and slash and burn agriculture for cocoa plantations. One major effort to prevent this is the introduction of cocoa agroforestry so that cocoa [...] Read more
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05 Push-pull biological control in Kenya

Changes in the climate drive shifts in the distribution and numbers of insects, plants and pathogens that are pests for agriculture. The ‘push-pull’ system has been widely implemented in Kenya to reduce loss of maize [...] Read more

Blue and green infrastructure in urban environments

Nature-based solutions can be used in combination with man-made infrastructure in cities to benefit people and nature simultaneously. Trees, vegetation and green roofs can reduce flood risk, improve water quality, be used for food production, and ameliorate the urban heat island effect. Moreover, there is evidence that increasing urban biodiversity benefits human health and wellbeing.

To explore Urban NbS in Europe, see the Naturavation Atlas.

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01 Liberty Market forest: an urban forest in Pakistan

A densely planted urban forest in the centre of the second-largest city in Pakistan has been designed to be inclusive of marginalised local people, creating a safe place to socialise, enjoy nature and harvest fruit. [...] Read more
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02 Park for water purification, flood mitigation & recreation

A three hectare park near Milan, Italy, which aims to contribute to flood protection, water quality, biodiversity enhancement and provide a place for recreation. When sewers overflow during heavy rains, the water first flows into [...] Read more
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03 Urban trees in Wisconsin USA

Trees have been shown to cause significant cooling in Madison, Wisconsin. Trees have a cooling effect due to reflecting more sunlight than darker surfaces, and the latent heat of  evaporation from leaves. The study showed [...] Read more
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04 Stormwater green infrastructure in the Mid-Atlantic USA

Use of vegetation in urban areas in the Mid-Atlantic watersheds of Washington DC, Montgomery County and Baltimore County MD, has reduced flooding and nutrient runoff. The ‘stormwater green infrastructure’ in these municipalities includes green roofs, [...] Read more
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05 Knowledge Mile Park in The Netherlands

A mile-long park is being constructed along a highly polluted street in Amsterdam, incorporating multiple nature-based solutions. The project was launched in 2015 by the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, and is being created through [...] Read more
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06 Community garden, Palermo, Sicily

A group of people came together back in 2006 to form a 10 thousand square meter urban organic allotment garden in Palmero, the city with the most green space in Italy. The goal is to [...] Read more
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07 Refugee camp gardens in Iraq

Running garden competitions for residents of refugee camps in northern Iraq proved to be an effective way to help reconnect people with their natural surroundings and communities. Participants were able to obtain plants from a [...] Read more

UNEP Projects

The projects showcased here focus on Nbs for climate change adaptation and are being supported by the United Nations Environment Programme.