Sunny, cliff top view across a disused quarry pit now filled with deep blue, still water and surrounded by lush greenery

Nature-Based Solutions to Climate Change

For nature, for climate, for communities

Nature's role

Close up view of a pure white Little egret, fishing in the shallow, calm waters of a harbour

Nature-based solutions, which include conserving and restoring habitats, can help us mitigate and adapt to climate change. They have huge benefits for wildlife and eco-system services such as clean air and pollination.

 

Peatland, freshwater and coastal wetlands, semi-natural woodlands and permanent grasslands are vital habitats that must be protected and restored in combination with a transition to sustainable farming. Privately owned land is playing an increasingly important role in climate change mitigation and adaptation.

 

Find out more in our story map.

Follow the guidelines

Large solar panels on the muddy ground, on the edge of Minsmere reserve car park

Nature-based solutions to climate change are not a substitute for the rapid phase-out of fossil fuels. We cannot delay urgent action to decarbonise our economies. We must also ensure that nature-based solutions deliver long term benefits for people and nature.

 

We follow a set of evidence-based guidelines, set by the Nature-based Solutions Initiative (NBSI), which sets out the criteria needed for gold standard nature-based solution delivery.

The cost of inaction

RSPB research mapped landscapes which are important for nature and act as carbon stores – such as ancient woodland, peatland, and wetlands – and found these landscapes contain 2 gigatons of carbon. This is equivalent to 4 years of the UK’s annual emissions.

 

The poor condition of our peatlands means they emit the equivalent of 5% of the UK’s greenhouse gases every year. These landscapes will only emit more harmful gasses if we fail to protect and restore them.

The solution: Peatland

View across a Forsinard Flows reserve with golden brown grasses surrounding silvery blue waters, under a cloudy grey sky

End burning on blanket bogs, with an outright ban on burning vegetation on upland peatlands. This would be an easy win for climate and nature, and help protect one of our most important carbon stores.

 

Reduce demand for peat-based products by banning the use of peat in gardening.

 

Increase funding for peatland re-wetting such as the blanket bog project at our Dove Stone reserve in the Peak District; home to mountain hares, peregrine falcons and curlews. 

 

Find out more in our peatlands story map.

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The solution: Woodlands and forestry

Close up view of a crested tit on a pine branch, looking towards the camera, surrounded by deep green pine leaves

Prioritise the conservation of the few remaining areas of ancient and semi-natural woodland in the UK. This should include protecting the best sites for wildlife and restoring important habitats damaged by plantation forestry. Support new woodland creation in appropriate locations for native species, at the right scale such as the Cairngorms Connect 200-year visionary restoration project.

 

Find out more in our woodlands story map.

The solution: Coastal

Pair of avocets feeding in a silvery creek in the sunlight, RSPB Medmerry Nature Reserve

Restore habitats such as saltmarsh, which can store carbon ten times faster than trees. Natural flood management and managed sea wall realignment reduces flood and coastal erosion risk. Medmerry nature reserve, managed by RSPB, in West Sussex is one of the biggest open coast realignments in Europe. New nature habitats were quickly recolonised by wading birds. The annual risk of flooding to nearby homes was reduced from a 1 in 1 year, to a 1 in 100 year event.

 

Find out more in our coastland restoration story map.