RSPB Scotland's Erica Mason introduces why nature-based solutions must be a key theme at the biodiversity and climate conferences this year.

Nature-based solutions: A key tool in the climate and nature emergency

2020 is a critical year for nature. In the autumn, the United Nations will convene two conferences on biodiversity and the climate, COP15 in Kunming, China and COP26 In Glasgow. The eyes of the world will be on Scotland, and it’s an excellent chance for the country- and RSPB Scotland - to showcase what we do.

One important theme for both COPs is nature-based solutions. This term, and others like it, have been used more frequently recently, but what does ‘nature-based solutions’ actually mean?  

bluebells amongst woodland
Credit: Andy Hay (

Nature-based solutions involve the protection and/or restoration of a wide range of naturally occurring ecosystems on land and in the sea, such as peatlands and woodlands. Poorly managed land and seas not only contribute to biodiversity loss, but also increase the threat of climate change. Damaged peatlands, for example, can account for as much as 10 percent of global emissions.

With 77 reserves in Scotland alone, the RSPB can clearly demonstrate nature-based solutions in action. From the Forsinard Flows National Nature Reserve in the Highlands, to the Skinflats Managed Realignment project, to big partnership efforts like Caringorms Connect, RSPB Scotland knows what nature-based solutions look like and how to implement them. Over the year in 2020, we will be inviting experts, officials, and visitors to come see how we can use nature-based solutions to augment efforts to end the nature and climate emergency.

forsinard reserve
Credit: Eleanor Bentall (

Nature-based solutions can foster resilience in nature, but they can also build human capacity to adapt to climate change. Local communities play a key role in tackling the nature and climate emergency. By helping to protect and restore our land, as well as sustain, enhance and support our biodiversity, the environment can help mitigate the worst effects of climate change, like flooding. As we head toward the COPs at the end of the year, RSPB Scotland will continue to support nature, and to highlight what we do well, showing the way to the future.

Hear more from RSPB Scotland's Paul Walton: