At a time of biodiversity and climate crises, we need nature more than ever. At The Rivers Trust, we take a holistic approach to regeneration by working with nature to help restore and replenish our local environments.
Nature-based solutions (NbS) are green, living infrastructure, supported and inspired by nature. They help protect our environment, create habitat and offer an alternative, low carbon to traditional grey infrastructure. All the while providing valuable natural assets for our local communities. Often green and grey infrastructure can work best together, but currently there are barriers to doing this.
Across the movement, we have adopted many nature-based approaches to tackling some key environmental issues. For several years, local Trusts have been implementing Natural Flood Management (NFM) techniques across the country in both urban and rural locations. Natural Flood Management uses natural materials to slow the flow of water, reducing the chance of flash flooding, as well as increasing water storage throughout the landscape.
Some NFM techniques include:
- Leaky dams - a series of logs across the watercourse to mimic naturally fallen trees, this helps to slow the movement of water through the catchment.
- Rain gardens and Sustainable Urban Drainage (SUDs) - Often in urban areas to reduce the risk of flooding and run-off.
- Woodland creation - Tree planting (in the right places) is a fantastic, natural way to manage flood risk. The leaves can intercept rainfall, slowing the rate at which rain hits the ground and subsequently enters our rivers. In addition, the roots can help bind together the soil reducing sediment washing into our rivers. Tree planting is also a fun task for volunteers; it's a really satisfying activity that can have amazing impacts on the wider ecosystem.
- Making space for water such as wetlands and storage ponds - The wetland plants help filter and improve water quality. Not only that, but wetlands can also help us to adapt to our changing climate, by storing water during extreme rainfall events, wetlands can reduce the amount of surface water elsewhere in the catchment
As well as the practical side of implementing NbS, we are also instrumental in addressing some of the financial barriers to funding the adoption of NbS.
For example, we believe that by implementing natural flood risk management features at scale, we could see significant financial returns from a better river environment. We are in the process of setting up a pilot project to lead future natural capital investment and build a credible case for green investment to restore river landscapes.
Interested in volunteering?
Take a look at our volunteering page to get involved in implementing some of these techniques