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Planning and Protection

​​​​​​Nature-based solutions are locally appropriate, cost-effective practices that mimic or support natural processes (like restoring floodplains to help store excess flood waters) while simultaneously providing economic, social, and environmental benefits. 

Why take a nature-based approach? With the increase in frequency and duration of severe weather events becoming the new normal, Kentucky communities are facing growing pressure to develop strategies that protect vulnerable populations and infrastructure from flooding and other water quantity issues. Extreme rain events can exacerbate runoff of water quality-degrading pollutants, such as sediments and nutrients. Nature-based solutions that provide filtration of pollutants from stormwater runoff may also slow quick flowing water and improve water infiltrating into the soil, thereby reducing erosion and flooding while simultaneously protecting water quality and controlling water quantity. By supporting the natural sponge-like function of soils, for example, such actions can also help combat drought conditions by maintaining moisture in the ground. Nature-based solutions provide a unique opportunity to strengthen natural resource management efforts and create a better, more resilient future for all Kentuckians.

Nature-based solutions are for anyone, anywhere! To see some Kentucky examples, check out our Nature-Based Solutions Story Map​.

If you'd like to learn more about current Kentucky efforts, partners, and resources, we highly recommend watching Kentucky Association of Mitigation Managers' Nature-based Solutions (NBS) Summer Webinar Series: Into the Green. The four-part series explores new ways of integrating nature-based solutions into hazard mitigation planning and introduces funding opportunities available to communities in and around the Commonwealth of Kentucky.  The Summer Webinar Series showcases several subject matter experts during each of the four sessions.

If you'd like to receive one-on-one consulting, please contact our NBS Technical Advisor (contact information below).​

Nature-based solution: locally appropriate, cost-effective actions that mimic or support natural processes while simultaneously providing economic, social, and environmental benefits

Green Infrastructure: a type of nature-based practice that uses natural hydrological processes and natural elements such as soil and plants to capture stormwater and reduce flows to sewer systems or to surface water

Low-impact Development: a planning and design approach to manage stormwater runoff using green infrastructure

Co-benefit: shorthand for "collaborative benefit," which are the multiple, sometimes multidisciplinary benefits that arise from a singular practice

Ecosystem service: benefits people obtain from ecosystems (e.g., food, water, oxygen)

Ecosystem-based management: an integrated management approach that considers the multiple and varied interactions within an ecosystem

Hazard Mitigation Plan: federally-mandated plan that aims to abate and prevent the impact of natural hazards, like floods, drought, tornados, mudslides.

Community Rating System: a voluntary, incentive-based community program that recognizes, encourages, and rewards local floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum standards of the National Flood Insurance Program

Watershed Management Plan: flexible framework that addresses water quality issues in a given watershed

Communities have long been implementing nature-based solutions, typically as a result of MS4 (Municipal Separate Stormwater Sewer System) programs or EPA consent decrees.

However, leveraging best practices from local stormwater programs with statewide planning and mitigation efforts in a systematic manner is a fairly new concept, at least in Kentucky.


  • EPA Region 4
  • FEMA Region IV
  • US Army Corps of Engineers
  • University of Kentucky Martin School of Public Policy
  • Kentucky Emergency Management
  • Kentucky Division of Water
  • The Nature Conservancy – Kentucky Chapter
  • Kentucky Association of Mitigation Managers (KAMM)

Amber Hawkins, Salt River Basin Coordinator​
(502) 782-6266​

Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet
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Frankfort, KY 40601

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