Nature Based Solutions (NBS) – actions to protect, sustainably manage, and restore natural or modified ecosystems – can play a critical role in mitigating not only climate change, but also increasing other benefits from nature (ecosystem services) that humans depend on. Indeed, the IUCN estimates that Nature-based Solutions can contribute up to 37% of the mitigation required to meet the Paris climate goal of keeping warming to 1.5°C. meeting Paris climate goals. Key NBS include actions such as reforestation, but also restoring natural flood defences and re-wetting peatlands, as well as techniques such as no-till agriculture which reduces soil erosion. As such, NBS can play a critical role in the monumental challenge humanity faces in achieving a sustainable future. However, to achieve their potential, NBS must be carefully deployed – not all locations are ecologically suitable or socially desirable for a given NBS.
Geographers are uniquely well-placed to help meet the challenge of effectively deploying NBS, as identifying such locations is an inherently geographical issue driven both by social, and ecological factors. In addition to gaining an understanding of Nature Based Solutions students will gain an ability to critically assess NBS in terms of their social and ecological trade-offs. These skills will be assessed through both lectures as well as a self-directed independent essay, and a written final examination.
Students will also be given the opportunity to gain an understanding of practical application of NBS in the field via at least one field trip. Field trip(s) will include teaching by by expert external staff who have delivered these interventions (i.e. a guided tour of reforestation at National Trust Slindon by NT rangers was done in 2022).
The critical assessment of potential solutions to environmental problems is an important transferable skill that will likely be valued by many employers both in government and private industry working within the growing environmental sector. In addition, the ability to present a critical summary of evidence both in written and oral format is an important transferable skill applicable to a very wide range of potential employers.