Home > Agenda > The role of forests and trees in the nature-based solutions discourse
5 Oct 2019 | 08:30 - 10:30 | R06-WING 3

The role of forests and trees in the nature-based solutions discourse

Recent years have seen the worldwide adoption and rapid proliferation of the ‘nature-based solutions’ concept. This session takes a critical perspective on the current NBS discourse, and focuses on the role of trees, forests and forestry. How are these currently considered in NBS research, policies and implementation? What can be done to ensure that not only ‘high-tech’ and often expensive NBS are prioritised by funders and decision makers? What lessons have we learnt so far about the role of forests and forestry in addressing societal challenges, for example in urban areas? How can we enhance forestry’s role? What is the role of different actors, including IUFRO, in making this happen?The session will include an introductory talk from an expert on NBS & trees/green infrastructure, to set the scene. This will be followed by brief presentations on the mobilisation of forests and trees as NBS, for example from urban forestry, green infrastructure planning, and national environmental programs. Links between NBS and other central concepts, such as ecosystem services, green infrastructure, the green economy and ecosystem-based adaptation will be highlighted.

Chair: Prof Cecil Konijnendijk
Vincent Gitz
Director, CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA)
Operationalizing Nature Based Solutions through forests and trees
“Nature based solutions” (NBS) are being increasingly promoted to address climate change and other societal challenges. They are defined as actions that use ecosystems to help societies address a variety of environmental, social and economic challenges in sustainable ways. NBS are explicitly considered as alternatives to human made infrastructures and integrate conservation and protection of biodiversity as a basis or a goal. The purpose of this intervention is to examine how the concept applies to forests and trees, how it relates to some other concepts that are already effectively used in forestry and to propose an operational framework to provide NBS through forests and trees. Three main types of NBS have been identified: making better use of existing natural or protected ecosystems, developing sustainable management protocols and procedures for managed or restored ecosystems, and creating new ecosystems. However, most NBS projects relate more to conservation or to the creation of new ecosystems than to improving managed ones. Paradoxically, NBS, to promote the use of nature as solution to human issues, first needs to separate nature and human made. Managed ecosystems are already managed for a purpose, or several, making the integration of a new objective more complex. We propose here to consider NBS as a binding concept between ecosystem managers and other stakeholders, including policy makers: a simple alternative solution to human infrastructures to be implemented by ecosystem managers through options integrated in the broader perspective of sustainable forest management and landscape approaches, thanks to an appropriate enabling environment.

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