Nature-based Solutions For Our Times

Nature-based Solutions For Our Times

Aekus Kamboj, EMEN Officer at CEMVO Scotland, reflects on the need to find nature-based solutions to the climate crisis…

Environmentalists tend to conceive of large pieces of empty land as potential sites for ‘Protected Areas’ in urgent need to be revitalised for climate change mitigation and a thriving biodiversity. However, this is antithetical to the social and cultural framing of ‘Protected Areas’ by communities that hold connections with land and water. The Scottish Highlands and Islands were known to be peopled and historied, which is why within the cultural depth and range of ‘Gaelic Imagination’ all aspects of the natural world are interconnected with the human and the spirit. Meg Bateman (2009), a Scottish academic and poet, has explained that within Gaelic Imagination land, nature altogether is animate and plant, animal, and human spirit are all interconnected:  in cultural terms fásach (wilderness or undomesticated space) historically provided the space for exploring this explicit interconnection. With the advent of Protected Areas as a space to keep people out of nature, the space for exploring human-nature connections was taken away from local communities along with the value and meaning they bestowed on it. This has clearly created divergent understandings of nature and place with differing perspectives on protecting nature and biodiversity. Since the 2000s, new land reform legislation in Scotland has been gently and slowly creating ways for increasing local autonomy, but a lot of gaps need to be filled before a truly collaborative concept for climate change mitigation through protection is developed.

While we wait for the bigger actors to attend seriously to the cultural and social issues brought about by the empty estates and depopulated glen, we can still find ways to contribute to nature recovery through small-scale Nature-based-Solutions (NbS). NbS keep the idea of re-centring the protection and management of nature to our livelihoods in order to holistically tackle the climate crisis. So, NbS only have real impacts when a place-based approach is used, and the actions are made by local communities while building their resilience to climate change. Unlike conservation actions like assigning ‘Protected Areas’ for protection of our country’s biological diversity and our natural resources, NbS are a range of approaches used to address the societal crisis alongside the climate crisis. So NbS promote the understanding that thriving ecosystems provide a host of health and wellbeing benefits for humans.

All images taken from the EMEN Nature Walk in Pollok Park, 15/9/22

Image taken from the EMEN Nature Walk in Pollok Park, 15/9/22

There are many ways to implement an NbS yourself individually near you— by building a rainwater garden in your home or creating green roofs— but good NbS have the capacity to provide sustainable livelihoods for local people, so an NbS that is implemented by a community group collectively would provide superior results. If you are a part of a likeminded group with an interest in saving the planet and wish to help create a thriving environment around you for your community then join the Save Our Wild Isles Campaign to start your project today. NbS don’t need to be overcomplicated, but they do need to answer nature’s needs while providing benefits for your community. There are a wide range of activities that can be good NbS if they are incorporated in a thoughtful way that unites traditional solutions and science-based targets. The Nature-based-Solutions Initiatives have provided four key evidence-based guidelines to implement well-designed, successful NbS that contribute to long-term environmental and societal benefits.

NbS are not the only solutions for the climate crisis, and it is best to invest in a diverse portfolio of climate solutions, but they are a great first step for those looking to support nature and their community simultaneously. The Save Our Wild Isles Community Fund is specifically designed to support communities in implementing NbS. We know that there are many communities in Scotland who deeply care about nature but aren’t able to access giant pots of funding or simply don’t have the resources to make their vision for flourishing nature come true. This Community Fund has been deigned to especially help those communities who haven’t been afforded a chance to work with nature in the past. We at EMEN will provide one-on-one support to everyone looking to apply for the Community Fund and guide them in designing successful projects so join us in saving our nature!


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