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Visit Scotland | Alba

Working with nature

Nature isn’t just nice to have. Nature and its biodiversity are essential for humans to survive - from the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat. 

This page explains what nature-based solutions are and how businesses can get involved. 

1. What is climate change doing to our natural world?

Climate change and nature loss are the greatest threats facing humanity.

Climate change is already impacting nature globally as well as in Scotland. In Scotland 49% of our national species are declining in numbers. In fact, the State of Nature Scotland Report 2019 found that 11% of Scottish species were in danger of extinction. The threat to biodiversity by climate change is expected to increase, with changing climactic conditions and extreme weather events.

But a functioning and thriving nature also absorbs and stores carbon, which can help reduce the impacts of climate change. Since human activity will always create some emissions, we can’t achieve net zero without nature absorbing the carbon dioxide we can’t avoid.  

Scotland's nature is also a key asset in attracting visitors. There are great opportunities to engage visitors to learn more about our nature, help protect it and enjoy it in a responsible way.  

2. What is a nature-based solution?

Nature-based solutions are activities that seek to protect, restore, and manage natural ecosystems.  

Nature-based solutions are based on the idea that robust and healthy ecosystems provide essential benefits and services to people, for example: 

  • storm water filtration

  • erosion protection

  • improving air quality  

  • increased water and food security

  • capturing and storing carbon

Nature-based solutions can often be confused with conservation. 

Conservation Nature-based solutions
To protect and preserve a specific species or area of the Earth's biodiversity. To restore, manage, integrate, and improve natural ecosystems for the benefit of all.

3. Nature-based solutions and net zero

Nature-based solutions can play a key role in achieving net zero. They help increase the Earth’s natural ability to breakdown, absorb, and store carbon from the atmosphere. Not all nature-based solutions have a direct link to climate change but here are some examples that do:  

  • restoration of peatland
  • restoration of wetlands and seagrass beds
  • preservation and restoration of forests
  • developing green infrastructure, for example a network of green spaces, such as green roofs, green streets, parks, permeable paving

4. Nature-based solutions and your business

Many nature-based solutions are often large-scale projects that need government intervention, or the co-operation of many different stakeholders.  

It may seem like nature-based solutions are out of reach for many businesses but there are two main ways you can use this to help your own journey to net zero.   

  • Engagement with organisations delivering nature-based projects

    There are many organisations delivering nature-based solutions projects in Scotland. Supporting them is a great way of contributing to your net zero journey.

    Get involved with local community projects. Nature-based solutions should be designed and implemented with the full engagement, consent, and participation of the local community.  


Supporting nature-based projects

  • In-house actions

    You can use the principles of Nature-based solutions and apply them to your own business. This may include: 

    • planting native flowers, shrubs, and trees
    • leaving areas of your land to grow wild
    • providing features to support biodiversity, for example bird boxes, bug hotels, log piles and ponds

    You may wish to consider developing green infrastructure to help with:

    • manage water runoff
    • protect your business from storms and other climate impacts
    • cut carbon

5. Further advice and support