Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) and Nature-Inclusive Harvesting (NIH)
for adapting marine ecosystems to a changing climate
The world's marine ecosystems support a large portion of the global biodiversity and play a major role for society. They harbour key climate regulating processes and habitats, contributing to worldwide food security, in addition to other valuable economic and wellbeing services and resources.
This natural capital includes material resources (e.g. seafood and building materials) as well as non-material benefits (e.g. aesthetics contributing to wellbeing and human health). Human activities can affect this natural capital and its provision of ecosystem services - either due to direct, local- and regional-scale impacts on biodiversity, habitats and ecosystem processes, or via global-scale changes such as climate change which affects overall ecosystem functioning.
Ecosystem-based management, adaptive marine spatial planning and habitat restoration can support and enhance the natural capacity of marine and transitional ecosystems to mitigate and adapt to climate change while supporting biodiversity and a range of other ecosystem functions and services.
FutureMARES highlights and develops these so-called “nature-based solutions” (NBS): resource efficient actions inspired or supported by nature to simultaneously provide environmental, social and economic benefits that help to build resilience to change. Our project focuses on two distinct NBS and one Nature-inclusive Harvesting (NIH) - read more below.
Effective restoration of habitat-forming species that can act as ‘climate rescuers’
Targeted habitats include seagrasses, salt marshes, mangroves, kelp forests, coral reefs and shellfish reefs, which form natural coastal protection and thereby help to adapt to increased storminess, seal level rise and flood risks resulting from climate change. Expansion of marine vegetated habitats also mitigate climate change by developing carbon sinks, like afforestation.
These targeted habitats also support biodiversity (including commercially important species) by forming key nursery areas, and providing natural refuges and feeding grounds. They also improve seawater quality and clarity, and sustain tourism and cultural activities.
Effective conservation strategies considering the impacts of climate change on habitat suitability for flora and fauna
The focus of NBS2 is on effective conservation strategies explicitly considering the range of impacts of climate change and other hazards on habitat suitability for flora and fauna. Strategies explored include preserving the integrity of food webs and sustaining population connectivity across networks of climate refugia where biogeo-physical conditions are stable or changing slowly over multiple spatial and temporal scales (i.e. from site-specific marine protected areas to conservation strategies for highly-migratory charismatic megafauna).
Sustainable Harvesting of seafood from fisheries and aquaculture - flexible, adaptive, managed on ecosystem basis
NIH Centers on sustainable harvesting of seafood from fisheries and aquaculture that is flexible, adaptive and managed on a whole ecosystem basis. Addressing the ongoing impacts of climate change requires an ecosystem-based management and a multi-species approach that can adapt to shifts in species' productivity, distribution and interactions. High-level EU policy advisors have highlighted culture and capture at lower trophic levels as critical for sustainable seafood production (linking with NBS1).
Strategies must also account for potential trade-offs among multiple users, economic sectors and the ecosystem services such as cultural heritage for effective Blue Growth linking with spatial planning in NBS2. Therefore, the two NBSs and NIH do not act in isolation but rather exert synergetic positive effects.