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Achieving Multi-Purpose Nature-Based Solutions

This project is funded by the Scottish Government RESAS Strategic Research Programme (SRP) 2022-27. It is project 'JHI-D2-2' within the Natural resources Theme and the Water topic.

Key drivers

In the context of the climate and biodiversity emergencies, there is a need not only to mitigate against these changes (e.g., reduce CO2 levels) but also adapt to current and future water-related environmental pressures (e.g., flooding, drought, water quality); action (based on evidence) is needed now. Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) have been promoted as a way to help address these emergencies and support Scotland’s Green Recovery. NBS are central to global debates about sustainable natural resource management. In particular they have been identified as one solution to many water related environmental pressures. They are being considered more by many policy (e.g., Scottish FRM Act 2009, WFD), industry and practice sectors but the widespread rollout of NBS is slow to address the pressing emergencies and mitigate water-related pressure. Scientific evidence and guidance are needed to support implementation. Coupled with this, greater focus must be given so that these solutions can provide many more ecosystem services and there are potentially ways to maximise these benefits further in managed landscapes.  Also, consideration of the wider benefits, how to value these and promote these to catchment planners, industry, and practice is required. However, getting beyond small-scale pilots and isolated best practices rarely occurs; we need to explore how to work at scales and across sectors to deliver NBS that make a significant contribution to meeting society’s needs.

Project aims

This project, which started in April 2022 and runs until March 2027, aims to: a) Develop a multi-scale empirical understanding of the impact of NBS based on hydrological, hydro-geomorphic, biogeochemical and ecological observations; b) Assess the water-related ecosystem services of a selection of NBS approaches on our landscapes and suggest ways in which the benefits can be enhanced; c) Assess the state of river corridors and their role in combating climate change, via ES impact indicator groups; d) Understand how to achieve transformative change via NBS that deliver multiple benefits and works across multiple sectors and scales. It has four core work packages which are focused on the following topics:

  • WP1: Creating a multi-scale empirical evidence database. Here we aim to create an evidence database of how measures function. 
  • WP2: The role of land and run off pathway NBS approaches in environmental change resilience. Here we will assess measure functioning e.g., role of RAFs for mitigating flood peaks (a case study example is availabe here) and look for ways to enhance the benefits e.g., getting more benefits from edge of field margins. Linked to this, we have recently published a report on the Logie Burn reach scale restoration project. We also will develop tools e.g., administering the Natural Flood Management Network Scotland
  • WP3: The role of river corridors and management approaches in environmental change resilience. This working area will look at the important services provided by river corridors. For example, it has recently reported on a Drivers-Pressures-State-Impact-Response (DPSIR) approach to evaluate river corridor climate reslience functions and produced a data synthesis for developing Riparian corridor units.  Case studies in this WP include the Beltie Burn, a national example of best practice into river restoration (see yearly report for lastest findings)
  • WP4: Enabling sustainability by upscaling & mainstreaming. Click the link to find out more on this WP. Further details on the above WPs will be developed shortly. 

Contact: Dr Mark Wilkinson -




Project Information
Project Type: 
Active Project


Areas of Interest

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