Planning nature-based solutions: Principles, steps, and insights

Ambio. 2020 Oct 14. doi: 10.1007/s13280-020-01365-1. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Nature-based solutions (NBS) find increasing attention as actions to address societal challenges through harnessing ecological processes, yet knowledge gaps exist regarding approaches to landscape planning with NBS. This paper aims to provide suggestions of how planning NBS can be conceptualized and applied in practice. We develop a framework for planning NBS by merging insights from literature and a case study in the Lahn river landscape, Germany. Our framework relates to three key criteria that define NBS, and consists of six steps of planning: Co-define setting, Understand challenges, Create visions and scenarios, Assess potential impacts, Develop solution strategies, and Realize and monitor. Its implementation is guided by five principles, namely Place-specificity, Evidence base, Integration, Equity, and Transdisciplinarity. Drawing on the empirical insights from the case study, we suggest suitable methods and a checklist of supportive procedures for applying the framework in practice. Taken together, our framework can facilitate planning NBS and provides further steps towards mainstreaming.

Keywords: Ecosystem services; Environmental planning; Framework; Lahn river; Landscape planning; Spatial planning.