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Nature-based Solutions

Farmers and ranchers are the largest private landowner group in Canada, managing about 8% of our lands. In addition to providing food for much of the Canadian population, farmland can benefit ecosystems through carbon sequestration, water filtration, and by providing habitats for many species.

“Nature-based Solutions" (NbS) is an umbrella term to cover a range of ecosystem-related solutions that can be applies to many environmental and socio-environmental issues such as climate change, food security, and natural disaster risk reduction.  The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) defines them as "actions to protect, sustainably manage, and restore natural or modified ecosystems, that address societal challenges effectively and adaptively, simultaneously providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits" (IUCN, 2016). Examples of NbS include wetland/floodplain restoration (carbon capture, flood mitigation, erosion control), stewardship of natural habitat on farmland (species conservation, increased pollination, soil stability), and urban bioswales or rain gardens (pollution filtration, flood mitigation).

Managing a farm or ranch as a part of a functioning watershed or landscape by maintaining key ecological functions such as pollination, soil building, water filtration and storage, nutrient storing and cycling, erosion control, and organic matter decomposition has benefits for both conservation and the farmer.

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How can Nature-based Solutions help the farm?


Erosion and sedimantation at streambanks, pond edges. Flooding during freshet/high water

Nature-based Solution

Maintain/enhance/restore riparian areas and wetlands as natural flood defenses, erosion control, etc.


Agricultural Benefit

  • Improved flood defense reduces damage to crops due to flooding.

  • Riparian areas and wetland house pollinators, including those that pollinate fruit trees & berries, and beneficial insects.

  • Reduced erosion of land.

  • Clean water is also critical for agricultural irrigation and for maintaining healthy soils, crops, and livestock

Conservation Benefit

Wetlands play a key role in the water cycle, particularly through water filtration and nutrient cycling. Wetland flood mitigation potential is dependent on geographic location, the interaction of the wetland area with other flood defenses, and the potential flood water. Seasonally flooded fields and other wetlands reduce the speed and volume of runoff after heavy rainfall, by storing and slowly releasing water or snowmelt.  Clean water is needed to maintain viable populations of all life forms from the smallest organisms to fish, birds, large mammals, and human populations. It is important to ensure our water is free of excess nutrients, sediments, and other pollutants.

Click on the photos below to learn about some real examples of using nature-based solutions on the farm

Our local ecosystems and habitats are highly complex and full of an incredible amount of biodiversity.  They each provide us with many different services but are all also vulnerable to a number of human-caused threats.

To learn more about the ecosystems and habitats on your farm, check out the pages below:

More about Riparian Areas & Wetlands

More about Grasslands & Shrublands

More about Forests

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