The NATURACT research project focuses on nature-based solutions as an agent for large-scale transformations in land use and land cover in vulnerable landscapes. Nature-based solutions (NBS) are a promising path forward for massive and no-regret solutions to prioritise nature to integrate climate mitigation measures for emissions reduction and adaptation measures to reduce the impacts of climate change. However, leveraging NBS as an instrument to couple climate mitigation and adaptation action is not without challenges. They lack widespread implementation, are not being implemented at the scale required and barriers on the limits of NBS effectiveness, negative perceptions and knowledge fragmentation limit their wider acceptance. Further to these challenges, NBS for both climate mitigation and adaptation are embedded in the more complex challenge of climate change requiring multi-level and cross-sectoral collaboration between different public actors, private actors, and citizens. As such, interdisciplinary approaches to strengthen academic and non-academic collaboration are needed to meet this challenge. The first year of the NATURACT project has therefore focused on i) applying the Systems Oriented Design (SOD) methodology to create an interdisciplinary space for the academic researchers to work across disciplines and ii) using SOD as a point of departure for engaging the different stakeholders at the first of three NATURACT case studies, Hølenelva located in Vestby municipality.
SOD is a process to reach a holistic understanding of the issue at hand. It is about mapping complexity - identifying what parts of the system can and should be changed and developing intervention concepts. SOD begins with understanding how worldviews influence our interpretations of the multiple layers in a system. By collectively defining the current system and mapping desirable futures it is possible to move forward towards identifying leverage points and prioritising interventions. The team of NATURACT researchers cover a broad range of disciplines to include climate and land surface modellers, terrestrial ecosystem ecologists, geotechnical engineers, hydrologists, geologists, environmental scientists, landscape architects, designers as well as experts in cultural heritage. In order to establish the interdisciplinary space to collaborate between project partners and better integrate project activities, the designers facilitated a training workshop as a deep dive introduction into systems thinking and SOD. The workshop was framed around the Hølenelva case study site as a tangible example for testing the SOD methodology and tools that will be implemented throughout the project. 'Gigamapping' is a method to visualise the complexity of the system and 'ZIPPING' (Z for zoom points, I for ideas, P for problems and P for potential) is the core technique to develop a common language to understand the system. Through these techniques, we are able to prioritise leverage points, assess feasibility, and maximise impact of NBS.
Outcomes from the training workshop were used to create a preliminary mapping of the Hølenelva watershed specifying locations exposed to climate risks as well as identifying potential NBS interventions. These first insights were presented to stakeholders at a community engagement workshop held in Hølen in August 2022. The workshop was organised using an exhibition format with posterboards to sense-check initial insights and to capture community perspectives on past and present challenges, opportunities as well as a vision of the future climate resilient landscape of Hølenelva. The site specificity in this area is framed by agricultural land and the forest. The stakeholders confirmed preliminary insights, and although stakeholders indicated that not much has changed in the area, a 100-year perspective shows significant changes, especially related to land use. The next workshop with public authorities will take place in January 2023 to identify NBS interventions and select potential NBS for future climate adaptation and mitigation modelling activities. Case study site results are being captured in a landscape-based guide plan specific for Hølenelva and Vestby municipality. Activities continue as the project has established contact with Aurland municipality to apply the SOD methodology and stakeholder engagement activities at this second case study site representing the west coast fjord landscape of Norway which is also experiencing more frequent flooding as well as landslides and rockfall. Initial project reflections are also being disseminated in Europe with much interest for nature-based solutions at the landscape scale and even more interest for the cross disciplinary systems oriented design approach that is being applied to tackle the complexity of nature for climate action.
Rapid and far-reaching climate action is needed to avoid severe climate change and achieve climate-neutrality before the end of the century. However, current national pledges on mitigation and adaptation are not enough to stay below the Paris Agreement temperature limits and achieve its adaptation goals. To support a greater scale and pace of change, it is becoming necessary to better integrate mitigation measures for emissions reduction and adaptation measures to reduce the impacts of climate change. Nature-based solutions (NBS) are a promising path forward for massive and no-regret solutions. NBS are gaining traction and uptake in both the public and private sector and as such represent a unifying concept to prioritise nature to integrate climate mitigation and adaptation efforts.
NATURACT focuses on NBS as an agent for large-scale transformations in land use and land cover in vulnerable landscapes to integrate mitigation measures for emissions reduction and adaptation measures to reduce the impacts of climate change. This is accomplished through interdisciplinary collaboration and the application of an innovative Systems Oriented Design approach that negotiates the complexity of climate change and NBS interventions. NATURACT delivers outputs on NBS to establish their effectiveness for reducing the risk of climate impacts in large-scale landscapes, to quantify regional and global impacts and feedbacks of NBS interventions and policy implications, and to transform attitudes and values towards NBS for adaptation, mitigation and ultimately climate action.
The overall goal is to understand the impact, feedbacks, synergies and trade-offs of NBS to recommend their upscaling for optimising climate adaptation and mitigation strategies.