Ecological Engineering

Soil and Water Bioengineering (SWB) is and has always been a nature-based solution (NBS): a reasoned comparison of terms and definitions

Nature-based solutions (NBS) is a collective term for solutions that are based on natural processes, in healthy or restored ecosystems, and their services to address the three pillars of sustainability, including climate-related challenges. Soil and Water Bioengineering (SWB or SWBE) is a hazard mitigation and restoration discipline formally established and structured since the aftermath of World War II, but finding its roots in age old applications, which have many objectives in common with NBS. However, a structured comparison of SWB and NBS terminologies and objectives is lacking, and this is much needed to highlight that SWB are amenable to the concept of NBS in the context of climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction (DRR). This work presents a comparison between the definition of SWB, NBS, and other terminologies that fall under the NBS concept. A matrix was created to compare NBS and NBS-related terminologies with the three main aspects of the SWB practice: “main aims”, “fields of application” and “other objectives”. Results from the comparison confirm that NBS is a unifying concept to prioritise nature to integrate climate change adaptation, mitigation, and disaster reduction efforts, embracing also many aspects of SWB criteria and applications. Thus, SWB can and should be recognized as having always been an NBS.