Failure to consider the wider environmental impacts of nature-based interventions risks increasing global warming and damaging the environment, warns a new report from the Natural Capital Committee (NCC), featuring research from Plymouth Marine Laboratory.
Nature-based interventions, such as tree planting, peatland restoration, and marine habitat protection, can help to reduce the volume of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and meet the government’s net zero greenhouse gasses target. However, the new NCC report – Advice on using nature based interventions to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 – from the UK Government’s independent advisors, which includes PML’s Professor Melanie Austen, highlights the significant risks of using natural interventions in sole pursuit of the net zero target, irrespective of the impact on the wider natural environment.
Interventions need to be designed with an eye to wider effects in order to avoid causing further degradation of natural assets or even increased global greenhouse emissions. For example, boggy peatland soils lock up vast quantities of carbon, but planting trees here can dry these soils out leading them to emit more greenhouse gas than would be captured by those trees.
The report suggests that such a narrow focus would repeat previous failures of land use policy and could overlook the significant wider benefits our natural assets provide, including mental health and wellbeing benefits from access to nature. Click here to read more of this blog and download the NCC report.