Natural ecosystems play a fundamental role in regulating different features of the water cycle, providing ecosystem services (ES) to regulate, clean and supply water. Therefore, maintaining healthy ecosystems have a direct effect on improving water availability. Specifically, wetlands have a very important role in hydrological processes including groundwater recharge and discharge, flood flow alteration, sediment stabilization and water quality.
Nature-based Solutions (NbS) can provide water-related services, regarding water storage and purification, erosion control, and moderate extreme events, as well as other environmental, social and economic water-dependent ES, addressing water security, water resources management challenges.
On the one hand, natural infrastructures can be more sustainable and cost-effective than traditional grey infrastructures, providing the climate resiliency and level of services required to face environmental threats. On the other hand, grey infrastructures are embedded within watershed or coastal ecosystems, and depends on their hydrological and environmental attributes. Therefore, developing a nature based approach to improve the efficiency of existing natural and grey infrastructures can produce a more sustainable and optimized response.
This is the case of integrating NbS in grey infrastructures, which can complement and potentially enhance the benefits of such infrastructure, reducing costs and improving its climate resilience and system performance. NATMed will foster this new approach of integrated water management developing Full Water-Cycle – NbS (FWC-NbS), focused on improving water storage and distribution infrastructures through ES provision to impact in the entire hydrological process, following circular economy perspectives. This concept is based on the potential of stablishing relations between NbS to work jointly in existing infrastructures, both natural water bodies and grey infrastructures, with the aim to increase the impact related to NbS in the water cycle and water balance.
The project follows a logical process of co-creation, demonstration, development, validation and refinement of the activities proposed. The NATMed concept and and the 5 main pillars are presented in the figures below.