Reproduced from O’Leary et al 2023.

Research priorities for marine and coastal Nature-based Solutions (NBS)

A core goal of the project MaCoBioS is to develop innovative research pathways and provide evidence-based guidance for marine policy formulation on Nature-Based Solutions (NBS).

In delivering this goal, we recently brought together twenty-one researchers from a breadth of scientific disciplines to identify research priorities for advancing understanding and informing implementation of marine and coastal NBS. Led by MaCoBioS researchers Dr Bethan O’Leary at the University of Exeter and Dr Catarina Fonseca at the University of the Azores, this collaborative work was supported by other members of the MaCoBioS team together with researchers from two other EU Horizon 2020 projects ‘Climate Change and Future Marine Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity’ (FutureMARES) and ‘Large scale RESToration of COASTal ecosystems through rivers to sea connectivity’ (REST-COAST).

Our three research priorities

To date, NBS have been largely studied for terrestrial – particularly urban – systems, with limited uptake thus far in marine and coastal areas. Yet, marine and coastal systems are of immense value to people and nature, face unprecedented risks from climate change and human impacts, and NBS offer a powerful strategy to reduce direct and indirect drivers of biodiversity loss and environmental degradation. We have therefore proposed three key interrelated research priorities for advancing NBS understanding and informing implementation in marine and coastal areas:

Biodiversity and ecosystem science: improve understanding of marine and coastal biodiversity-ecosystem services relationship. Our world is rapidly changing, and we need to understand risks to biodiversity and new opportunities for better management. Advancing knowledge on links between marine and coastal biodiversity, ecosystem health, vulnerability, functions, and services will help us do this and make us better placed to maximise the effectiveness of NBS as they are deployed.

Implementation guidance: provide scientific guidance on how and where to implement marine and coastal NBS and better coordinate across NBS strategies and projects. By improving our understanding of which marine and coastal NBS offer the greatest value, and how and where to implement and coordinate strategies for them, we can better implement management and help overcome barriers to NBS implementation.

People-centric research and action: develop ways to enhance marine and coastal NBS communication, collaboration, ocean literacy and stewardship. People are a critical part of the natural world and we need to better integrate and engage with local communities and other stakeholders in research and management to raise awareness, boost buy-in and increase societal benefits of NBS.

Embracing NBS in marine and coastal areas for transformative change

These are a broad set of priorities intrinsically linked to each other that go far beyond what one project can deliver. Collaboration between researchers and practitioners will be key and we need to concentrate investment and research efforts to move forwards with marine and coastal NBS design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation. Moving forward, MaCoBioS hopes that these research priorities can help inspire new research that operates with the same holistic approach as NBS – creating actionable science that embeds people and nature and helps us embrace NBS in the science, policy and practice of managing marine and coastal ecosystems for tangible benefits to people and marine life.

The full citation of the paper is: O’Leary BC, Fonseca C, Cornet CC, de Vries MB, Degia AK, Failler P, Furlan E, Garrabou J, Gil A, Hawkins JP, Krause-Jensen D, Le Roux X, Peck MA, Pérez G, Queirós AM, Różyński G, Sanchez-Arcilla A, Simide R, Sousa Pinto I, Trégarot E, Roberts CM. (2023) Embracing Nature-based Solutions to promote resilient marine and coastal ecosystems. Nature-Based Solutions 3:100044.

The full paper can be found here.

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