Types of Nature-Based Solutions

Nature-based solutions include varied practices that can be applied at many different scales, for example, to an entire watershed or a specific site. The common thread is that nature-based solutions mimic natural processes and offer diverse benefits.

Below, we've organized nature-based solutions into three categories:

Watershed or landscape-scale practices build interconnected systems of natural areas and open space. They require long-term planning and coordination. Examples include land conservation and greenways.

Neighborhood or site-scale practices manage rainwater where it falls to reduce stormwater runoff. They can often be built into a site or neighborhood without much extra space. Examples include permeable pavement and tree trenches.

Coastal practices stabilize the shoreline, reduce erosion and buffer the coast from storm impacts. While many watershed and neighborhood scale practices work in coastal areas, coastal systems are designed to support coastal resilience.

Examples of Nature-Based Solutions

Graphic for Watershed Scale: Land Conservation

Land conservation is one way of preserving interconnected systems of open space that sustain healthy communities.

Land conservation projects begin by prioritizing areas of land for acquisition. Land or conservation easements can be bought or acquired through donation.

Graphic for Neighborhood or Site Scale: Permeable Pavement

Permeable pavements allow more rainfall to soak into the ground. Common types include pervious concrete, porous asphalt, and interlocking pavers.

Permeable pavements are most commonly used for parking lots and roadway shoulders.

Graphic for Coastal Areas: Dunes

Dunes are coastal features made of blown sand. Healthy dunes
often have dune grasses or other vegetation to keep their shape.

Dunes can serve as a barrier between the water’s edge and inland areas, buffering waves as a first line of defense.

Graphic for Watershed Scale: Greenways

Greenways are corridors of protected open space managed for both conservation and recreation.

Greenways often follow rivers or other natural features. They link habitats and provide networks of open space for people to explore and enjoy.

Graphic for Watershed Scale: Wetland Restoration and Protection

Restoring and protecting wetlands can improve water quality and reduce flooding. Healthy wetlands filter, absorb, and slow runoff.

Wetlands also sustain healthy ecosystems by recharging groundwater and providing habitat for fish and wildlife.

Graphic for Watershed Scale: Stormwater Parks

Stormwater parks are recreational spaces that are designed to flood during extreme events and to withstand flooding.

By storing and treating floodwaters, stormwater parks can reduce flooding elsewhere and improve water quality.

Last updated