Addressing societal challenges through nature-based solutions: How can landscape planning and governance research contribute?

Albert, C. et al. | Landscape and Urban Planning | 2019 | Peer Reviewed | Perspective |


Nature-based solutions (NBS) in river landscapes, such as restoring floodplains, can not only decrease flood risks for downstream communities but also provide co-benefits in terms of habitat creation for numerous species and enhanced delivery of diverse ecosystem services. This paper aims to explore how landscape planning and governance research can contribute to the identification, design and implementation of NBS, using the example of water-related challenges in the landscape of the Lahn river in Germany. The objectives are (i) to introduce the NBS concept and to provide a concise definition for application in planning research, (ii) to explore how landscape planning and governance research might support a targeted use and implementation of NBS, and (iii) to propose an agenda for further research and practical experimentation. Our methods include a focused literature review and conceptual framework development. We define NBS as actions that alleviate a well-defined societal challenge (challenge-orientation), employ ecosystem processes of spatial, blue and green infrastructure networks (ecosystem processes utilization), and are embedded within viable governance or business models for implementation (practical viability). Our conceptual framework illustrates the functions of NBS in social-ecological landscape systems, and highlights the complementary contributions of landscape planning and governance research in developing and implementing NBS. Finally, a research and experimentation agenda is proposed, focusing on knowledge gaps in the effectiveness of NBS, useful approaches for informed co-design of NBS, and options for implementation. Insights from this paper can guide further studies and support testing of the NBS concept in practice.