Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions
Mangrove planting - image credit 123rf/tapui

Nature-Based Solutions

Nature-based solutions are defined as “actions to protect, sustainably manage, or restore natural or modified ecosystems to address societal challenges, simultaneously providing benefits for people and the environment.”

Examples of nature-based solutions include protecting forests, restoring coastal marshes, or creating rain gardens. They are a fundamental tool for addressing the climate crisis, just like deploying renewable energy, improving energy efficiency, and electrifying transportation. Nature-based solutions can also reduce emissions, remove carbon from the atmosphere, make ecosystems more resilient, and lower climate risks for people.

As momentum for nature-based solutions grows, the Nicholas Institute is identifying opportunities to implement these projects, exploring ways to finance them, measuring and understanding their benefits for people and ecosystems, and providing targeted planning and communications resources for natural resource managers.


Applying GEMS with the NOAA Restoration Center

Increasingly, restoration funders and practitioners are paying attention to how coastal restoration projects affect people and communities.The GEMS project identified metrics for social and economic outcomes of coastal restoration, including employment, local economy, recreation, food provision, and mental health benefits. We are now working to apply the GEMS methods for assessing fishing and related outcomes to support restoration decisions made by NOAA’s Damage Assessment Remediation and Restoration (DARRP).

Beneficial Use of Dredge Sediment for Marsh Resilience

Coastal areas draw many visitors and full-time residents with their scenic beauty and recreational opportunities, but they’re vulnerable to many stressors.

Coastal Blue Carbon

Research at the Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability examines the economic and scientific challenges that need to be addressed in order to determine whether payments for storing coastal blue carbon may one day help conserve mangroves, seagrass meadows, and salt marshes, and keep them from being converted to other uses and releasing their stores of greenhouse gas.

Conservation Planning Tools for North Carolina’s People and Nature

Conservation organizations and land trusts in North Carolina are increasingly focused on how their work can 1) contribute to humans’ and ecosystems’ resilience and adaptation to climate change, and 2) directly mitigate climate change through carbon storage and sequestration.

Ecosystem Services Toolkit for Natural Resource Management

NESP has created a set of resources for the natural resource management community which are intended to establish an ecosystem services framework that is flexible, while being standardized, intuitive, and credible.

Green Banks and Community Lenders Financing Nature-Based Solutions

The Nature-Based Solutions Financing Working Group, led by the Nicholas Institute and Environmental Policy Innovation Center, is providing resources for those interested in scaling up nature-based solutions financing through green banks and community lenders.

Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem Service Logic Models & Socio-Economic Indicators (GEMS)

The Nicholas Institute, partnering with The Harte Research Institute and The Nature Conservancy, works to standardize metrics of restoration success by developing ecosystem service logic models with stakeholders from the five Gulf states, federal agencies, and technical experts.

National Ecosystem Services Partnership (NESP)

NESP engages both public and private individuals and organizations to enhance collaboration within the ecosystem services community, including on nature-based solutions. It aims to strengthen coordination of policy, market implementation, and research at the national level.

Nature-Based Solutions Roadmap

The DOI Nature-Based Solutions Roadmap, along with related strategy documents and fact sheets, is designed to provide DOI staff with consistent and credible information about nature-based solutions. The Roadmap is a living document that will be periodically updated to include new information and resources about nature-based solutions strategies.

Nature-Based Solutions: Current Issues

Explore current issues related to nature-based solutions, discover promising practices, and hear from experts working in this field via this webinar series organized by the Nicholas Institute’s National Ecosystem Services Partnership and the Resilience Roadmap project.

North Carolina Natural and Working Lands

The North Carolina Natural and Working Lands Action Plan, part of the North Carolina Climate Risk Assessment and Resilience Plan, was created in response to Executive Order 80 to identify opportunities for North Carolina’s natural and working lands.

North Carolina Pocosins Mapping

Pocosins are a unique type of wetland found in the North Carolina coastal plain. They provide valuable wildlife habitat and store large amounts of carbon in their deep peat soils. There is increasing interest in pocosin restoration as a nature-based solution that will benefit both natural ecosystems and people.

Resilience Roadmap

The Resilience Roadmap makes recommendations for how to build greater climate resilience in the United States through federal action.

Southeast Coastal Resilience Organization Database

The database is intended to assist those interested in coastal resilience in the southeastern United States to quickly find others doing related work, in order to facilitate collaboration and connection.

US Coastal Habitat Policy Review

Coastal habitats in the United States provide significant environmental, social, and economic benefits, including shoreline protection, carbon sequestration, food provision, and recreational and cultural services.