April 25, 2024

Advancing Nature-Based Solutions: A Key Focus for US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)

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In a recent memo, the US Army Assistant Secretary for Civil Works, Michael Connor, emphasized the increasing need to integrate nature-based solutions (NBS) in Civil Works (CW) projects. Recognizing the importance of this approach, the memo provides guidance and direction to continue leveraging NBS where appropriate, highlighting the critical role of Engineering With Nature (EWN) principles in achieving sustainable outcomes.

Meeting Demand Through Nature-Based Solutions

The memo underscores the significant progress made by USACE in developing and implementing NBS in CW projects, driven by the growing interest from non-federal partners. It emphasizes the need to expand the use of NBS while identifying and addressing challenges in implementation.

According to the memo, EWN’s lessons learned and best practices play a crucial role in informing NBS integration in CW projects. EWN emphasizes using engineering and science to produce operational efficiencies, increasing the value provided by NBS projects, and leveraging natural processes to maximize benefits. Additionally, collaborative processes are employed to organize, engage, and focus interests, stakeholders, and partners.

Navigating Challenges and Advancing Solutions

While challenges persist, USACE is actively addressing them to facilitate the widespread adoption of NBS. Engineering guidance specific to NBS applications is being disseminated, providing support to project teams in coastal and riverine environments. Furthermore, efforts are underway to develop tools for assessing benefits and costs associated with NBS, ensuring comprehensive evaluation during project planning and implementation.

The memo highlights the establishment of pilot programs, such as in Miami-Dade, Florida, aimed at overcoming identified issues and advancing NBS research. Regardless of challenges, the memo stresses the importance of formulating and incorporating NBS into analyses for all CW projects as appropriate.

Engineering With Nature Program Resources and Research Tasks

To address challenges and support the integration of NBS, the EWN program offers a range of resources and research tasks. These include design and construction guidance currently underway on various NBS applications, technical expertise to support project teams, and ongoing research initiatives aimed at enhancing the understanding and implementation of NBS.

The memo signals USACE’s commitment to advancing NBS in CW projects, highlighting the pivotal role of EWN principles in achieving sustainable and resilient infrastructure solutions. By embracing NBS, USACE aims to foster collaboration, enhance environmental stewardship, and ensure the long-term viability of infrastructure projects.


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