How are nature-based solutions contributing to priority societal challenges surrounding human well-being in the United Kingdom: a systematic map

Dick, Jan ORCID:; Carruthers-Jones, Jonathan; Carver, Steve; Dobel, Anne J.; Miller, James D.. 2020 How are nature-based solutions contributing to priority societal challenges surrounding human well-being in the United Kingdom: a systematic map. Environmental Evidence, 9, 25. 21, pp.

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Background: The concept of nature-based solutions (NBS) has evolved as an umbrella concept to describe approaches to learning from and using nature to create sustainable socio-ecological systems. Furthermore, NBS often address multiple societal challenges that humans are facing in the medium to long-term and as such can enhance human well-being (HWB). This study was commissioned to fulfil the need for a targeted systematic evidence map on the linkage between NBS and HWB to support focused research going forward that addresses the key knowledge needs of policy makers in the UK and beyond. Methods: A consultation with policy makers and government agency staff (n = 46), in the four component parts of the UK (England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland) was conducted in spring 2019. This identified four key societal challenges of operational experience lacking a scientific evidence base. Three of these challenges related to management issues: NBS cost-efficacy, governance in planning, environmental justice. The fourth challenge related to the acoustic environment (soundscape). Using systematic methods, this study searched for and identified studies that assessed NBS on HWB with regard to these four selected societal challenges. Review findings: A total of 7287 articles were returned from the systematic search and screened for suitability at the level of title and abstract. A total of 610 articles passed screening criteria to warrant full text screening. Of these, 115 studies met the full text criteria for eligibility in the final systematic map database. Included studies were coded for twelve NBS interventions and ten HWB related outcome categories. Most of the evidence reviewed referred to natural, blue or green infrastructure in the urban environment and focused on economic, material and health aspects of HWB. Less than 2% of studies identified in the searches robustly reported the role of NBS actions or interventions on HWB compared with non-NBS actions or interventions. Conclusion: This systematic map found the evidence base is growing on NBS-HWB linkages, but significant biases persist in the existing literature. There was a bias in favour of the urban environment and restoration studies focused on conservation aspects, with only a few studies investigating the full suite of advantages to HWB that can be delivered from NBS actions and interventions. The soundscape was the least studied of the societal challenges identified as being of key importance by policy makers, with cost-efficiency the most reported. There was a lack of robust long-term studies to clearly test the potential of NBS regarding the HWB outcomes compared with non-NBS alternatives. This lack of robust primary knowledge, covering all four key societal challenges identified, confirms that the knowledge gaps identified by the policy makers persist, and highlights a clear research need for long-term, transdisciplinary studies that focus on comparisons between NBS and non-NBS alternatives.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Biodiversity (Science Area 2017-)
Hydro-climate Risks (Science Area 2017-)
Water Resources (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 2047-2382
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: cost-efficacy, governance in planning, environmental justice, acoustic environment, soundscape
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 29 Oct 2020 13:05 +0 (UTC)

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