In our rapidly changing world, where climate change is reshaping our environment and intensifying natural disasters like floods, the concept of Nature-Based Solutions (NbS) emerges as a beacon of hope. This innovative approach seeks to harmonize the protection of populations and the preservation of biodiversity. Originating in the scientific realm, NbS represents actions that sustainably manage and restore ecosystems to address societal challenges effectively, fostering human well-being and offering biodiversity benefits. With examples like retention ponds, wetland restoration, or urban rain parks, NbS are increasingly recognized for their multifunctional role in adapting to climate challenges, particularly in flood management. This emerging concept, although recent, draws upon a blend of modern scientific insights and traditional knowledge, promising a more harmonious coexistence with nature.

In the face of growing climate change challenges and increasing flood risks, an insightful new study in PLOS Water reveals the potential of Nature-Based Solutions (NbS) in addressing these environmental crises. This study delves into the views of experts on NbS, illuminating the diverse opinions that shape our approach to eco-friendly flood management strategies.

The study, spearheaded by Pénélope Brueder, Dr. Alexandra Schleyer-Lindenmann, Dr. Corinne Curt, and Franck Taillandier from RECOVER INRAE/ADEME Aix-en-Provence and ESPACE UMR 7300 CNRS Aix Marseille Université, draws upon the insights of flood management experts. To gather these insights, the team conducted in-depth interviews, analyzed the discussions for recurring themes, and used specialized software to examine how often certain words and ideas appeared together. This thorough approach helped unravel the complexities of how experts view and understand NbS.

Pénélope Brueder, the lead author, explains the significance of NbS in relatable terms, “The idea of ‘vegetal engineering’ enhances the value of traditional and long-standing knowledge, directly linking it to the methods used by those working in the field. This approach makes NbS more relatable to the public rather than presenting them as new, cutting-edge techniques.” This perspective underscores the need to make NbS more understandable and accessible to the general public.

The study uncovers that NbS is seen differently by theorists and practitioners. Theorists view NbS as an alternative to traditional engineering methods, while practitioners may view them with caution, concerned about their over-simplification. Despite these differences, a common theme emerges – the concept of making more space for nature, a reflection of the evolving mindset towards environmental conservation.

Brueder further notes, “The concept of making more space for nature indicates that the approach to NbS aligns with a broader environmental worldview, known as the New Environmental Paradigm.” This comment highlights a shift in thinking about how to tackle environmental challenges.

The research also points out the need for clearer communication about what NbS entails. Terms like “vegetal engineering” are proposed to better connect NbS with practical, on-the-ground techniques, rooted in age-old knowledge, making them more understandable to the public.

This study is not just about managing floods but also encompasses broader goals like promoting biodiversity and improving human well-being. However, the study identifies challenges in NbS application, especially in finding a balance between controlling natural processes and adapting to them.

In conclusion, this study provides vital insights into how experts view Nature-Based Solutions for flood risk management. It advocates for a dialogue that includes diverse perspectives, recognizing the role of NbS in promoting a sustainable approach to environmental challenges. This inclusive dialogue could lead to more effective and widely accepted strategies for managing floods.

Journal Reference:

Brueder, P., Schleyer-Lindenmann, A., Curt, C., Taillandier, F. (2023). Nature-Based Solutions for Flood Risks: What Insights Do the Social Representations of Experts Provide? PLOS Water, 2(11), e0000116. DOI: