trees with fall colors near a wetland
Clayoquot Sound An aerial view of Clayoquot Sound, on the west coast of Vancouver Island in the Canadian province of British Columbia. The Conservancy is conserving over 250,000 acres of old-growth forest in partnership with local Indigenous communities – doubling the area’s current protection. Clayoquot Sound is a critical part of the 100M acre Emerald Edge, the largest and last intact coastal rainforest on earth, whose majestic lands, waters and wildlife are a global treasure of epic biodiversity now struggling from threats to the environment in coastal Washington, Alaska and British Columbia. © Bryan Evans

Innovating for Climate Change

Natural Climate Solutions

Science shows that nature can play a critical role in mitigating the effects of climate change.

Canada is facing a climate crisis. 

We have entered an era of rapidly accelerating species extinction and are facing the irreversible loss of plants, habitats, vital forests, and lands. Unmediated, climate change will have devastating consequences. The Canada we love—and the natural world we so cherish—will be forever changed if we don’t act now. 

Ernest (Charlie) Mason, a hereditary chief in the Kitasoo/Xai’Xais Nation, is also a fisherman. He works as a boat operator and a bear guide for the Spirit Bear Lodge.
Green Recovery NCS can play a key role in creating jobs and GDP growth in the short term, and in the long-term can support sustainable and just economic recovery in Canada. © Jason Houston

Protect, Manage, Restore

Natural Climate Solutions (NCS) are actions to protect, manage, and restore forests, grasslands, agricultural lands, and wetlands that result in avoided and captured greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Our planet has always used natural carbon storage processes in plant matter, in soil and in oceans. NCS provide an opportunity to harness nature to deliver immediate impact for our climate.

Implementing Natural Climate Solutions

NCS are measures that people, industry, and government can take to help nature store and capture GHG emissions. Here are a few examples of NCS pathways that help avoid or capture additional emissions through ecosystem protection, management and restoration: 

  • Forests: Building urban canopy covers (planting trees and other plants in areas with high population densities), converting non-forest lands into forests, and using harvest residues from ongoing deforestation operations for bioenergy. 

  • Grasslands: Protecting grasslands from razing to clear room for cropland, and empowering farmers to maintain riparian buffers to protect water sources from run-off.  

  • Agriculture: Implementing efficient use of nitrogen fertilizer, while encouraging the widespread planting of off-season cover crops in order to prioritize soil and crop health, leading to more sustainable agricultural practices and maximized GHG capture. 

  • Wetlands: Engaging in the prevention of drainage, dredging, eutrophication or other anthropogenic activities that regularly threaten the existence of wetlands and peat bogs. 

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As many opportunities for NCS in Canada occur on the traditional  lands and waters of Indigenous peoples, effective implementation must be grounded in respect for Indigenous rights, culture and traditions. Informed by Indigenous knowledge and guided by time-proven and effective approaches for land stewardship and biodiversity conservation, NCS are an opportunity for reconciliation when driven by Indigenous leadership.   

Coming Soon: New Landmark Canadian Research

In 2017, a global study identified that NCS can deliver 37% of GHG emissions reductions to reach global 2030 targets. Nature United is currently leading a Canadian study to better understand how nature can significantly contribute to meeting Canada’s commitments under the Paris Agreement. This landmark research will highlight the astounding potential of nature to help fight climate change.

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NCS present an opportunity to leverage Canada’s vast natural systems to be a global leader and inspire countries around the world to mobilize nature to mitigate emissions.  NCS can also play a key role in creating jobs and GDP growth in the short term, and in the longer-term supporting sustainable and just economic recovery in Canada. 

More Resources

Learn more about how natural climate solutions can play a role in mitigating the effects of climate change.

  • Danika Littlechild led a panel on Indigenous-led climate solutions in action across Canada.

    Nature-Based Solutions Summit

    In February 2020, leaders in conservation, government and the private sector attended a two-day Summit in Ottawa to discuss the potential of Natural Climate Solutions in Canada. Learn More

  • The Yurok Tribe, the largest tribal group in California, owns land around the Klamath River and are participants in California's forest carbon offset program.

    How Nature Can Help Our Planet Heal

    A study by our global affiliate and other organizations shows that climate solutions in nature can equal stopping the burning of coal annually. Learn More

  • TNC Yampa River Preserve, Hayden, Colorado.

    Nature4Climate

    Nature4Climate is an initiative that aims to increase investment and action on nature-based solutions in support of the 2015 Paris climate agreement. Learn More

  • at the Ellsworth Creek Preserve in Washington.

    Nature’s Make or Break Potential

    Study shows we’ve been underestimating nature’s role in tackling climate change. Learn More