Nature-based solutions proactively use nature’s forms and functions to address societal and environmental challenges, including water scarcity, pollution, and flooding. Many nature-based solutions help protect local water supplies by allowing communities to capture more water, whether through rainfall collection systems or landscaping techniques that replenish groundwater supplies and slow rain runoff for healthier river flows.
For example, landscapes that use solutions such as rain gardens or berms and swales (contoured ditches and small hills) mimic designs that already exist in nature, taking advantage of their proven water-capturing benefits.
In urban settings, these solutions frequently involve increasing the amount of greenspace or other surfaces that allow water to seep into the ground. Some examples include parks, urban meadows and forests, habitat restoration and permeable pavement. Other solutions involve capturing rainwater through strategies like rooftop catchment systems and rain barrels.
In rural settings, nature-based solutions typically aim to improve soil and land health so that agricultural processes consume less water (and allow more water to soak into the ground). This approach is sometimes also called “conservation agriculture,” and employs strategies like fully covering the land with vegetation and letting it “rest” and regrow for a time before it is grazed again.Photo on right: With help from Van Dyck Earthworks & Design LLC, TerraPurezza Farm has restored the property's soil health and water retention by covering the barren landscape with vegetation, as well as building berms (pictured in center of photo) and swales along the top of the farm's hillside.
Nature-based solutions include strategies that capture water in retention facilities that mimic nature, which increases the amount of locally-available water. These onsite water supplies help communities become more self-reliant and resilient.