Top 5 Reasons Nature-Based Solutions Help Protect Wildlife and You

By Marisa Escudero, Water Resources Manager, National Wildlife Federation

“Top 5 Reasons Nature-Based Solutions Help Protect Wildlife and You”

Healthy rivers, coasts, and wetlands solve water resources problems with nature-based solutions. These approaches rely heavily on ecosystem services to help safeguard wildlife, your community, and you! Ecosystem services include clean water, habitat for fish and wildlife, and natural flood protection—they create and support our natural resources. Example of MS River Floodplain

The Mississippi River Floodplain

Why would we want to incorporate nature-based solutions to
flood-risk management, water projects and policies?
1) It Works and Protects the Environment.
Science-based approaches to flood-risk management continuously highlight the benefits of nature-based approaches. Wetlands, for example, naturally provide flood protection, recharge groundwater, and provide habitat—using them just makes sense. But levees are still the preferred tool for flood protection, even though they actually increase flood-risks. Ignoring nature-based approaches puts wildlife, our communities, and you at risk.
 Apalachicola floodplain_Devon Creek

The Apalachicola River Florida’s largest floodplain with the highest species diversity of any river system in North America. An astounding 85% of Apalachicola fish use the floodplain.

2) Increases Resiliency to Climate Change. The nation faces increased storms, floods, droughts, and rising sea levels along our coasts and estuaries because of climate change, but healthy and thriving ecosystems can increase our resiliency to the adverse impacts. However, federally-subsidized water projects often harm these natural systems, failing to factor in the latest climate change science. Adapting existing infrastructure to incorporate nature-based solutions is the best approach for combatting the impacts of climate change.
3) Protects Wetlands. Wetlands are an amazing source of biodiversity and they naturally reduce the impacts from floods, maintain water quality, and help stabilize climatic conditions—just to name a few of their benefits. The key to successfully protecting them is to improve projects to avoid mitigation completely, focusing instead on utilizing ecosystem function, long-term planning, and continued monitoring. Big Oak Tree State Park SJNMThe New Madrid Floodway is an integral part of the Mississippi River ecosystem, and provides vital fish and wildlife habitat.
4) Improves the Decision-Making Process. Incorporating nature-based solutions, both at the state and federal level, is a key way to improve the decision-making process to ensure ecosystem services are protected and incorporated. With 35 states already implementing constitutional provisions protecting environmental rights, the time is prime for ensuring nature-based solutions are part of the decision-making process.
5) Engages the Community. Motivating people to act in ways that protect and sustain the world around them can be difficult. Even high impact communications about the value of ecosystem services can fail to inspire. But coalitions like the Water Protection Network help continue the dialogue by providing resources for nonprofits in the field to provide information on what is at stake, who benefits, and who stands to lose when we fail to include nature-based solutions.  

fishingSC_PCDonated_Warner Ithier-GuzmanA community member enjoying the benefits of a healthy ecosystem

What is the Water Protection Network? WPN-main-logo

The Water Protection Network (Network) is a coalition working to ensure our Nation’s water resources policies and projects are environmentally and economically sound. Network members include national, regional, and local conservation organizations from 43 states, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands.

 Want to Learn More?

Become a member or contact Marisa Escudero at escuderom@nwf.org for more information.