Nature-based Solutions

a school of fish swimming in the ocean over a coral reef

The Department of the Interior’s mission includes obligations to protect and manage the Nation’s natural and cultural resources. Doing so under climate and other forms of environmental change will be increasingly challenging and will require a unified, Department-wide approach. Working with nature to mitigate and adapt to change has been shown to generate greater, more sustainable outcomes for humans and nature. This is where the concept of Nature-based Solutions has gained prominence as an approach for adaptation, resilience, and mitigation, using strategies that mimic, enhance, replicate, or expand natural ecosystem processes.

A Nature-based Solution (NBS) is an action that incorporates natural features and processes to protect, conserve, restore, sustainably use, and manage natural or modified ecosystems to address socio-environmental challenges while providing measurable co-benefits to and benefit both people and nature. NBS implementation can be referred to as “green infrastructure” or “natural infrastructure.” In April 2022, Executive Order 14072 directed the federal government to accelerate our use of solutions that are grounded in nature, calling for the deployment of NBS to improve the resilience of our lands, waters, wildlife, and communities in the face of climate change. This led to the release of the in November 2022, which includes five recommendations: 1) update policies 2) unlock funding 3) lead with federal facilities and assets 4) train the workforce, and 5) prioritize research, innovation, knowledge, and adaptive learning. In response, the Department is committed to implementing NBS as a key strategy for climate adaptation and mitigation and biodiversity conservation.

Infographic showing examples of types of nature-based solutions work by the Department of the Interior, overlaid across a line map of the United States.

The Department of the Interior uses Nature-based Solutions across the country to benefit people and nature. Credit: Virtual Student Federal Service Intern Ben Slyngstad for the USGS.

To benefit people and nature, the Department will prioritize high-return NBS investments that connect lands and waters, promote cross-bureau collaboration, leverage partnerships, ensure climate security, incorporate Indigenous knowledges where possible, and apply evidence-based scientific approaches to predict, monitor, and assess NBS implementation effectiveness. NBS activities within the Department are not new and encompass broad swaths of existing Bureau programs. However, the intentional focus on increasing NBS implementation by crafting NBS policy to improve coordination and maximize adaptation and mitigation outcomes in support of the Department’s mission is new. 

The Office of Policy Analysis is leading and coordinating development of a new NBS policy and a DOI NBS Roadmap—a toolkit to empower staff across Interior to implement NBSs. These will support people in 1) considering NBS approaches first, 2) choosing NBS projects that benefit both people and nature, 3) interweaving equity in design and implementation, 4) using best available evidence, 5) continually improving over time, and 6) leveraging cross-bureau collaboration.

Additional resources


Feature photo: A restored coral reef off Kota Kinabalu, Borneo, which is a Nature-based Solution with a mix of both concrete “Reef Balls” to rebuild reef topographic complexity and a variety of out-planted natural corals. Credit: Curt Storlazzi, USGS

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