How shaping nature can limit the impact of the changing climate

by Search Gate staff. Published Tue 22 Sep 2015 10:05, Last updated: 2015-09-22
'Green infrastructure' can deliver a more effective and cheaper solution to tackle climate change
'Green infrastructure' can deliver a more effective and cheaper solution to tackle climate change

Building and managing a “green infrastructure” with a well-planned network of natural areas could provide an effective and, in many cases, cheaper solution for coping with natural disasters such as floods or landslides, according to new research.

A report published today by the European Environment Agency (EEA) explores how nature can be used to help Europe prepare for and reduce the loss from weather- and climate-related hazards.

The impacts of a changing climate, including extreme rain, floods, avalanches and landslides and storm surges are among the costliest and deadliest natural hazards in Europe and globally.

The EEA’s new report ‘Exploring nature-based solutions: the role of green infrastructure in mitigating the impacts of weather- and climate change-related natural hazards’ focuses on certain types of extreme events and hazards in Europe that are likely to be amplified by ongoing climate change.

As mentioned in the Green Infrastructure Strategy, the European Commission defines green infrastructure as a strategically planned network of high-quality green spaces. In the study, green infrastructure is defined by its capacity to provide a relevant number of ecosystem services.

The study provides an overview of where specific weather- and climate-related natural hazards are likely to occur, where well-functioning ecosystem services exist which can support disaster risk reduction and climate adaptation so as to lessen the impacts of natural hazards (e.g. floods and landslides), and where the provision of ecosystem services may be improved.

Green infrastructure solutions that boost disaster resilience are also an integral part of EU policy on disaster risk management. Climate change and infrastructure development make disaster-prone areas more vulnerable to extreme weather events and natural disasters such as floods, landslides, avalanches, forest fires, storms and wave surges that cause loss of life and result in billions of euros of damage and insurance costs each year in the EU. The impacts of such events on human society and the environment can often be reduced using green infrastructure solutions.

To address some of these challenges, the report proposes a simple, practical methodology for screening - rather than assessing - ecosystem services in areas where green infrastructure may contribute to reducing current, or future, weather- and climate-related natural hazards.

The report’s lead author, EEA project manager Gorm Dige, said: “Green infrastructure can provide multiple functions and benefits on the same spatial area. These functions can be environmental, social and economic.

“The contrast with grey infrastructure solutions, which typically fulfil single functions such as drainage or transport, makes green infrastructure appealing because it has the potential to tackle several problems simultaneously. Traditional grey infrastructure is still needed, but can often be reinforced with nature-based solutions.

“For example, green infrastructure can be used to reduce the amount of storm water runoff entering sewer systems and ultimately lakes, rivers and streams, through the natural retention and absorption capabilities of vegetation and soils.

“Benefits of green infrastructure in such a case could include increased carbon sequestration, improved air quality, urban heat island mitigation, additional wildlife habitat and recreational space. Green areas also contribute to the cultural and historical landscape, giving identity to places, as well as to the scenery of urban and peri-urban areas where people live and work.

“Research shows that green infrastructure solutions are less expensive than grey infrastructure, and provide a wide array of co-benefits for local economies, social fabric and the broader environment.”

The report addresses landslides, avalanches, floods, soil erosion, storm surges and carbon stabilisation by ecosystems.

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Comments about How shaping nature can limit the impact of the changing climate

Agro-forestly will absorb the Carbon dioxide emitted to atmosphere hence reducing the green house gases emission to the atmosphere.
Peter Ihuthia, Kenya around 6 hours, 14 minutes ago

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