Nature-based solutions are methods of addressing societal changes such as climate change and food security by means of natural ecosystems. The type of nature-based solution depends on the kind of challenge, and interventions can be employed to provide combined measures of dealing with a problem, for example, introducing agroforestry in areas that need restoration of wetlands. Natural-based solutions seek to support human well-being by maintaining a mutual relationship between people and nature. It also seeks to promote sustainable management of ecosystems despite the increasing demands on the ecosystem and promoting conservation and restoration of ecosystems.
The protection of ecosystems can be done using natural approaches such as protecting the drivers of biodiversity or through conventional engineering interventions to mitigate adverse climate change. Natural-based solutions originated from significant milestones of organizations such as the World Bank, IUCN, and UNDP. Each of these organizations had their definition of NbS, which shared an overall goal of addressing societal challenges through effective use of the ecosystem.
The formation of NbS was founded on several principles. The first principle was that these solutions should not substitute nature conservation, and at the same time, not all conservation efforts would be considered as NbS. The second principle, which is similar to the eighth principle, stated that NbS could be complemented and be implemented alongside other types of interventions. The third principle, which is identical to the fourth and fifth, said that NbS should support values that integrate cultural and social components. I learned that practical examples of NbS interventions might be in the form of restoration of drylands, development of green infrastructure in urban environments, conservation of forests, and management of rivers and wetlands.
The NbS can also be in the form of solutions that either develop sustainable management protocols or create new ecosystems.
From the general information about nature-based solutions, the main drivers affecting biodiversity are pollution, invasive species, and climate change. Animals are capable of positively modifying ecosystems by simultaneously providing biodiversity benefits to humans, land, and plants. Animals are living solutions that provide cost-effective, pragmatic, replicable, and replicable environmental benefits. Animals are at the center of implementing nature-based solutions in social and economic innovations. Animals are the fastest means of establishing a pragmatic balance within a short time. Despite the conflicting objectives between environmental stewardship and animal welfare, animals undoubtedly offer nature-based solutions in the ecosystem.\nImplementation of nature-based solutions requires technological approaches that are time-consuming. However, animals provide a fast and natural solution that is easy to implement among farmers who already own farm animals. Animals are easy to reconnect to and through nature while achieving desirable results. This concept can be explained that most farmers would rather keep animals than plant trees since animals provide them with commercial benefits. The keeping of animals will benefit the ecosystem, such as the plants. Most people will go for nature-based solutions that provide economic benefits, and animals will be preferred and, in the long run, provide environmental benefits to the ecosystem.
Livestock agriculture contributes to greening the environment that, in turn, reduce heat levels and create fresh air. Even though manufacturers produce animal feed, most people in Kansas prefer to feed their animals, especially cattle, with natural vegetation. Therefore, vegetation will be preserved in these areas for the animals but end up benefiting the ecosystem by reducing carbon dioxide emissions and preventing climate change. The rearing of animals increases food production and enhances food security. This phenomenon exists because livestock agriculture provides a market for crop agriculture (Rodrigues et al., 2018). Livestock agriculture encourages the growth of oilseed, corn, sorghum, oats, and other grains used to manufacture animal feed. Therefore livestock agriculture provides a market for enhancing crop agriculture, which improves food safety. Rearing of animals also includes food safety since most animal products such as beef, mutton, and pork are consumed by most of the human population.
Animal keeping will provide a milestone to the circular economy. For example, cattle keeping will provide organic leather that will, in turn, be used to create leather seats, belts, footwear, automobile seats, wallets, bags, and fashion accessories (Geissdoerfer et al., 2017). These products will be biodegradable and thus be easily recycled to prevent pollution (Rodrigues et al., 2018). However, it will be challenging to eliminate synthetic manufacturers who produce the same products using non-biodegradable material.
Advancing animal keeping to establish ecological focus areas will also promote the ecosystem. For example, it is keeping animals such as bees that facilitate pollination. Besides, collecting animal waste and using it as organic fertilizers will further improve the soil fertility and quality and prevent soil erosion (Rodrigues et al., 2018). Animals fall among the ecosystem restoration approaches of nature-based solutions under ecological engineering. Improving animal breeds to boost production is done through genetic engineering. Genetic engineering poses little risk to the environment and gives incentives to an increase in food production.
Waste products from animals provide solutions that can help in the development of a circular economy. For example, cow dung is being used in the production of biogas. Biogas is an environmentally friendly fuel resulting from the anaerobic digestion of organic waste materials (Geissdoerfer et al., 2017). Biogas provides other advantages, for example, sterilization of fecal pathogens, production of stabilized residue, and production of nitrogen. These benefits are significant in the realization of a circular economy that is free from pollution. Also, the biogas fuel will reduce deforestation since it provides an alternative source of fuel. The microbial diversity in the animal body directly benefits the farm environment by promoting the growth of plant matter and adding probiotics in the soil.
Even though some people oppose pastoral livestock, keeping with the perception that it leads to desertification as a result of overgrazing, keeping large herds of cattle has ecological function values where rangeland is managed sustainably. The misconception of pastoral livestock keeping is contributed to by the misunderstanding of irreversible degradation (Rodrigues et al., 2018). Desertification is a result of decreased productivity provided by abiotic factors such as rainfall. The flexibility of mobile animals that graze in shrubs is not sufficient to cause desertification. Instead, the grazing of livestock on shrubs and dry areas boosts rangeland productivity. Therefore, mobile livestock is a sustainable way of utilizing rangelands under optimum conditions (Stagakis et al., 2019). Mobile grazing is a means of pollination whereby seeds in the animal gut come out as feces and grow in the area where they are deposited. This phenomenon contributes to the nitrogen cycle and proves that pastoral grazing is a means of nature conservation (Rodrigues et al., 2018). Animals also contribute to the preservation of wildlife biodiversity since most wild animals co-exist in habitats where domestic animals exist. Consequently, the presence of wild animals leads to the conservation of forests, thus preserving the forest ecosystem.
Integrating animal keeping as a means of achieving NbS in urban areas may be difficult. However, I would propose installation offers of animal sheds to retired government employees with backyards and large tracts of land in areas such as Mexico. I would construct animal sheds that are durable and serve various purposes such as production, waste management and feeding purposes to utilize on the space and limit the amount of labor required for the care of the animals. Some of the structures that I will integrate into the farms will be small-scale piggeries and medium-scale stables. Since the degree of livestock agriculture commercialization in urban centers is low, I would not focus on setting up large-scale structures. In town centers, I would focus on installing poultry sheds which require little space and incorporate them with vertical farming structures that will promote green zones in urban areas. The poultry sheds will target medium families who consume eggs in urban centers. Besides, the poultry manure will add nitrogen to the soil and promote the nitrogen cycle in urban areas.
In regards to retired people looking for business ventures, I would set up biogas plants for them and pose to them the challenge of supplying gas to neighboring houses since most retired individuals with large tracts of land live adjacent to low earning individuals. This project will encourage the use of renewable energy sources and preserve the environment. However, there are some obstacles that I will anticipate while conducting this project. The first challenge will be posted by the rigid perceptions of most people concerning urban agriculture. Some people believe that livestock agriculture cannot be practiced in urban areas. Also, I will anticipate people’s fear of poultry diseases that are rampant in urban areas due to a lack of knowledge of poultry maintenance techniques. However, in pursuit of realizing a beneficial ecosystem, I will convince all those who will be willing to integrate animal keeping in urban areas.
In conclusion, I recommend animals as the most suitable nature-based solution in Kansas and other areas in which animals are kept. Animals are ideal since they provide two of the trio benefits of social, economic, and environmental. The adoption of animals to achieve nature-based solutions requires a short timescale and little cost. Animals pose the least ecological risk in an ecosystem and are unlikely to face political and social resistance, unlike technological implementations. Besides, animals are drivers of both socio-economic and natural environment in the nature-based solutions.