Monitoring NbS Outcomes

It is important to monitor the outcomes of NbS for both people and nature, so that NbS design and implementation can be adapted and improved to maximise multiple benefits and minimise or mitigate any trade-offs. Relevant outcomes include:

  • Benefits of nature for people, such as carbon sequestration and storage, flood protection, urban cooling or opportunities for recreation.
  • Socio-economic outcomes from NbS implementation, such as employment, training and income generation opportunities (this needs to be underpinned by an effective and inclusive governance process; see the Recipe for Engagement)
  • Outcomes for biodiversity and ecosystem health

While existing guidance is available for the first two of these (coming soon in our forthcoming guidance section), we found a lack of a practical framework for selecting metrics to monitor the outcomes of NbS for biodiversity and soil health. Often there is an assumption that any type of nature-based intervention will automatically deliver biodiversity benefits. However, in practice, it is important to design NbS very carefully to ensure genuine benefits for both biodiversity and people and to carry out monitoring to understand project impacts. We have designed a tool to assist in designing a biodiversity and soil health monitoring strategy, to ensure that informative metrics are selected and are linked to standardised monitoring protocols where possible.

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The Biodiversity & Soil Health Metrics Tool

The Biodiversity & Soil Health Metrics Tool provides practitioners with information to design effective ecological monitoring approaches for Nature-based Solutions projects. This Tool provides a framework for identifying the most informative and feasible metrics for assessing biodiversity and soil health outcomes of NbS projects. Existing standardised methodologies for data collection and tech solutions that could simplify monitoring in the future are highlighted.

Metrics have been prioritised based on their informativeness and the feasibility of monitoring, and grouped into Tier 1, Tier 2, and Future metrics. Tier 1 metrics are the most informative and feasible to measure, Tier 2 are informative but with lower feasibility of monitoring or applicable only to specific projects, and Future metrics are highly informative but currently likely to be unfeasible for most projects to monitor without specialist expertise or equipment.

Metrics can be filtered based on:

  • Type of metric (Biodiversity, Soil health)
  • Aspect of biodiversity (Composition, Structure, Function)
  • Aspect of soil health (Chemical, Physical, Biological)
  • Scale (Landscape, Community, Population, Genetic)
  • Tier (Tier 1, Tier 2, Future metrics)
  • Ecosystem (Forest, Grassland, Peatland, Heathland, Saltmarsh, Wetland, Agricultural, Other)
  • Cost (High, Medium, Low)
  • Technical expertise (High, Medium, Low)
  • Standardised methodology (Yes, No, Partial)

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