Natural Climate Buffers at the IUCN Global Congress
Together with our Dutch member Natuurmonumenten and the Natural Climate Buffer Coalition (Dutch acronym CNK), Eurosite held a workshop about natural climate buffers at the IUCN Global Congress in Marseille on Tuesday 7 September 2021. Eurosite Director Harm Schoten chaired this hybrid meeting, which was attended by 30-40 participants, in-person and online.
Jeffrey Brand (Birdlife Netherlands) and Paul Vertegaal (Natuurmonumenten) introduced the natural climate buffers concept according to the strategy of Eurosite’s Wetlands and Climate Change working group and presented the Dutch climate buffer approach, with the natural water retention area De Onlanden as existing example. Glen Swainson (Natural England) and Jos de Bijl (Stroming, on behalf of WWF-Netherlands and Wetlands International) presented additional examples from Germany and England. As an unexpected guest, Dr. Riad Nurmohamed, Suriname Minister of Public Works, appeared at the workshop and proudly reported about their successful mangrove restoration projects as natural flood defenses along the country’s coastline.
Jos de Bijl presented research on ‘natural sponges’ caried out in cooperation with Wetlands International. The research is focused on small-scale natural water retention in the capillaries of the Rhine watershed and its large-scale effects on buffering extremes in the water discharges more downstream watershed in the river. With the dramatic floods in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands still in mind, this growing knowledge was eagerly taken up by the workshop’s audience.
Glen Swainson presented Natural England’s experiences with the restoration of Roudsea Wood and Mosses, until recently a degraded peatbog complex in north-west England and now a successful example of climate buffer types ‘carbon sink’ and ‘natural sponge’.
The workshop participants concluded that authorities should adopt these nature-based solutions as the first scenario for climate adaptation and mitigation measures, which can only be realised if authorities and enterprises transfer from sectoral to integral thinking. This is slowly becoming policy in some countries, but is not common practice yet. This was a frequently recurring conclusion at the IUCN congress, where mainstreaming nature-based solutions was one of the main topics.