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Nature-Based Solutions

Updated: Jun 15



As the name suggests, nature-based offsets are offset solutions that use nature rather than tech or engineering to avoid emissions or remove carbon from the atmosphere. 


A well-known example is working with trees and forests. Forests are an incredible carbon sink, and their protection, management, or restoration can help ensure that:

  • Carbon remains stored

  • These natural carbon sinks are working to their full potential.


In addition to reducing atmospheric carbon, nature-based solutions have many co-benefits, targeting other societal issues intrinsically tied to climate change, like biodiversity loss and global hunger. 



Co-benefits of Nature-Based Solutions


  • Disaster risk reduction 

  • Increased food security 

  • Increased water security 

  • Biodiversity loss reduction

  • Protecting human health 


These co-benefits are essential to a sustainable and equitable future for all, which is why nature-based solutions, despite some challenges, are a valuable part of climate action. 


Before we dive into the advantages of nature-based solutions, let’s go over the different types. While many think that nature-based solutions are limited to tree planting, there are actually a variety of projects with different methodologies to explore.



Types of Nature-Based Solutions


  • Afforestation, Reforestation and Revegetation (ARR)

  • Agricultural Land Management (ALM)

  • Improved Forest Management (IFM)

  • Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD)

  • Waterland Restoration and Conservation (WRC)



Afforestation, Reforestation, and Revegetation Carbon Credits


ARR projects focus on planting or restoring forests and other vegetation, to increase the capacity of the landscape to sequester carbon. 



Agricultural Land Management Carbon Credits


ALM carbon credits fund the transition to more sustainable livestock farming and agriculture practices. 



Improved Forest Management Carbon Credits


IFM projects work to improve the carbon sequestration capacity of existing forests and can also include reducing the GHG emissions caused by human activity in the forest. 


An IFM project could, for example, involve reducing the number of trees harvested from an area of privately owned forest. Credits compensate the landowner for loss of income. 



Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation Carbon Credits


REDD carbon credits fund forest conservation or avoided conversion.


Forest conservation

Preventing forests from being cut down or otherwise destroyed. 


Avoided conversion

Preventing forested land from being converted to another land use such as agricultural, commercial, or recreational. 



Waterland Restoration and Conservation Carbon Credits


WRC is similar to ARR but focuses on wetlands rather than terrestrial forests. These projects usually involve planting mangroves and are a popular, high-quality, nature-based offsetting option.



Advantages of Nature-Based Solutions


Nature-based solutions go much further than the value of their carbon credits. The co-benefits mentioned above mean that funding these solutions is also a way to reduce the risk of disaster events which can pose significant risks to businesses and society in general. These events can include wildfires, coastal erosion, and flooding among others.


Investing in disaster prevention goes beyond altruism: building climate resilience saves society money. In fact, a study estimated that in the United States, every $1 spent by the federal government on disaster mitigation saves society $6. When money is not invested in climate resilience on time, businesses and individuals take on the cost. 



Nature-Based offsets and UNSDGs 


It is widely recognised that offsetting projects should go further than just sequestering carbon. For instance, all Gold Standard carbon offsetting projects must contribute to at least 3 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to show that they are supporting people and prosperity as well as the planet. 


Looking at the co-benefits of nature-based solutions, it’s easy to see how so many SDGs are met by projects that restore or protect nature. 



Disadvantages to Nature-Based Solutions


Showing that a nature-based solution is a high quality offset can be more challenging than for tech-based solutions. Nature is inherently a bit harder to measure and predict future outcomes for. 


This raises questions such as, how do we measure the exact amount of carbon sequestered by a tree planting project? How long must the trees survive to guarantee this benefit, and what happens if they don’t? How can we show that a farmer who commits to protecting a project area isn’t just moving their activity elsewhere and cutting the same number of trees down in the end? 


These are all valid concerns, but, unfortunately, they detract from the incredible climate change mitigation capacity that nature-based offsets offer. Working with carefully researched, trusted providers is a way to reduce these concerns and make the most of the solutions without worry. 



Why Fund Nature-Based Solutions?


Although the impact of nature-based projects might be more complicated to measure and prove than, for instance, a solar power project, their co-benefits for biodiversity and human life mean they have a key role in reaching net zero


Additionally, even if a nature-based project doesn’t result in carbon credits, the benefits to biodiversity and ecosystem health are still hugely impactful. 


Using nature-based solutions to support net zero efforts lines up with the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report, where they state that ‘Land-based mitigation measures represent some of the most important options currently available’ and the Oxford Principles for Net Zero Aligned Carbon Offsetting (2024 revision), which highlights the importance of nature-based solutions in tackling climate change. The Oxford Principles state that ‘it is necessary to protect and restore ecosystems to achieve net zero globally and to support adaptation to climate change impacts, irrespective of whether such projects generate credits that are retired as offsets.’


Although we are advocates for funding nature and the power of nature-based solutions, we would encourage individuals and businesses alike to consult with an expert when selecting projects to fund. 


Get in contact to learn more about how Furthr can help you with offset portfolio selection.

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