Natural Climate Solutions

Ben Porter

Natural Climate Solutions: Evaluating the Contribution of the ELSP to Climate Change Mitigation

Context & Opportunity

The large-scale restoration of habitats, including forests, peatlands and wetlands, offers opportunities to tackle the twin crises of global biodiversity loss and anthropogenic climate change. It is therefore critical that restoration projects understand and maximise their climate change mitigation potential while still delivering biodiversity benefits. This project aimed to develop methods to increase our understanding of the potential of landscape- and seascape-scale ecosystem restoration projects to contribute to such ‘natural climate solutions’. A pioneering assessment of the magnitude of the climate change mitigation benefits of existing ELSP projects was also carried out. 

This project will develop a tool to enable landscape restoration projects to assess their potential climate change mitigation benefits. This tool will quantify the carbon sequestration potential for each Endangered Landscapes & Seascapes Programme project and identify how this can be optimised in line with biodiversity benefits. This will be achieved by quantifying the carbon sequestration and storage flowing from Endangered Landscapes & Seascapes Programme restoration activities, set against a comparison of ‘business as usual’ for these landscapes. This project will provide important real-world examples of the climate change mitigation benefits that can come from the large-scale restoration of natural habitats, strengthening the case for increasing the capacity and funding available.

Outputs & Achievements

The project developed a summary report that describes how restoration practitioners can use existing tools, methodologies and data to estimate the potential climate change mitigation benefits of specific restoration activities. The report also demonstrates, through an assessment of existing Endangered Landscapes & Seascapes Programme projects, how interventions aimed at enhancing biodiversity can help fight climate change. 

In addition, this project applied the EX-Ante Carbon-balance Tool (EX-ACT) to assess the climate benefits over 20 years of the restoration activities being implemented at nine current ELSP restoration landscapes. These assessments are based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) methodologies for greenhouse gas emissions inventories, and work by quantifying the carbon sequestration and storage flowing from restoration activities, set against a comparison of ‘business as usual’ for these landscapes. It should be noted that this is an evolving field and for some ecosystems and restoration interventions methodologies are still in development or have limitations.  

As well as the full project report, a policy brief was created to explain and promote the substantial climate benefits provided by ecosystem restoration to an audience of decision makers. Project findings were also presented at an event in the peatland pavilion hosted by Cairngorms Connect at UNFCCC COP26 in Glasgow to promote the multiple benefits of peatland restoration. 

By demonstrating the contribution that large-scale ecosystem restoration can make towards climate change mitigation using real-world examples, this project provided a vital hook for advocating the use of landscape and seascape restoration as a natural climate solution with policy makers, strengthening the case for increasing the capacity and funding available. 

The guidance and summaries produced as part of this project, as well as a selection of Landscape climate change mitigation summaries produced as part of a previous project on the topic, are all available from our Resources section.

Project Partners

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)
UNEP-WCMC
BirdLife Europe

Outputs

Climate Change Mitigation in the ELSP

Climate Change Mitigation in the ELSP

This report demonstrates how restoration practitioners can use existing tools, methodologies and data to rapidly estimate the potential climate change mitigation benefits of specific restoration activities. More specifically, it reveals (through an assessment of existing Endangered Landscapes & Seascapes Programme projects) how interventions aimed at enhancing biodiversity can help fight climate change.

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Policy Brief: Nature-based solutions to climate change

Policy Brief: Nature-based solutions to climate change

The Endangered Landscapes Programme (ELP) is advancing large-scale restoration of marine and terrestrial habitats at 18 locations across Europe, reversing impacts of unsustainable use and creating places that deliver long-term benefits for nature, climate, and people.

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Iberian Highlands Climate Change Mitigation Summary

Iberian Highlands Climate Change Mitigation Summary

In this project, restoration is achieved by passive rewilding. Carbon benefits are due to resulting improvements in ecosystem condition and reduced fire risk.

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Iron Curtain to Green Belt Climate Change Mitigation Summary

Iron Curtain to Green Belt Climate Change Mitigation Summary

Carbon benefits in this project are achieved by reforesting burned areas, restoring grasslands and reducing forest degradation by encouraging native oak forest growth.

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Mura-Drava-Danube Climate Change Mitigation Summary

Mura-Drava-Danube Climate Change Mitigation Summary

The interventions included in this assessment are the removal of non-native forest and cropland, the creation of native forest and grassland and the introduction of native cows.

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