Nature-based Solutions Overview

Nature-based Solutions Overview

Nature-based solutions are locally appropriate, cost-effective practices that mimic or support natural processes (like restoring floodplains to help store excess flood waters) while simultaneously providing economic, social, and environmental benefits.

Why take a nature-based approach?  With the increase in frequency and duration of severe weather events becoming the new normal, communities are facing growing pressure to develop strategies that protect vulnerable populations and infrastructure from flooding and other water quantity issues.

Extreme rain events can exacerbate runoff of water quality-degrading pollutants, such as sediments and nutrients.  Nature-based solutions that provide filtration of pollutants from stormwater runoff may also slow quick flowing water and improve water infiltrating into the soil, thereby reducing erosion and flooding while simultaneously protecting water quality and controlling water quantity.

By supporting the natural sponge-like function of soils, for example, such actions can also help combat drought conditions by maintaining moisture in the ground.  Nature-based solutions provide a unique opportunity to strengthen natural resource management efforts and create a better, more resilient future for all Kentuckians.

Key Terminology

Nature-based solution: locally appropriate, cost-effective actions that mimic or support natural processes while simultaneously providing economic, social, and environmental benefits

Green Infrastructure: a type of nature-based practice that uses natural hydrological processes and natural elements such as soil and plants to capture stormwater and reduce flows to sewer systems or to surface water

Low-impact Development: a planning and design approach to manage stormwater runoff using green infrastructure

Co-benefit: shorthand for “collaborative benefit,” which are the multiple, sometimes multidisciplinary benefits that arise from a singular practice

Ecosystem service: benefits people obtain from ecosystems (e.g., food, water, oxygen)

Ecosystem-based management: an integrated management approach that considers the multiple and varied interactions within an ecosystem

Hazard Mitigation Plan: federally-mandated plan that aims to abate and prevent the impact of natural hazards, like floods, drought, tornados, mudslides.

Community Rating System: a voluntary, incentive-based community program that recognizes, encourages, and rewards local floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum standards of the National Flood Insurance Program

Watershed Management Plan: flexible framework that addresses water quality issues in a given watershed