On this page, you can find the most commonly asked questions about the Urban Nature Atlas. If you have a specific question about the database or the projects showcased which is not answered on this page, please contact us via our contact form.

Atlas development process

How and why was the Atlas developed?

The Urban Nature Atlas was created as part of the Naturvation project which aimed at developing the first comprehensive survey of nature-based solutions in European cities and produce an interactive database which allows users to examine how nature-based solutions are being implemented under different urban conditions. As part of the Naturvation project, 1000 nature-based solution case studies were drawn from 100 European cities for inclusion into the Atlas. Six of these 100 cities were chosen for inclusion as they constituted partner cities of the Naturvation project, hence in-depth research could be conducted. The remaining 94 cities were identified from the Eurostat Urban Audit and chosen systematically based on criteria and methods developed by the Ecologic Institute. The selection criteria sought to ensure the representation of diverse conditions of both the urban environment (e.g. economic development, demographics, governance structure, land-use, urban morphology, size) and environmental settings (e.g., temperature, rainfall, coastal/river location, proportion of green space, climate vulnerability), while also taking geographical distribution of the chosen cities into account.

When was the Atlas developed?

The Atlas was developed between January and August 2017. From January until May 2017, an online questionnaire was developed which would facilitate collection of information about nature-based solutions across Europe. From June until July 2017, Master’s students drawn from the Master’s Programmes of the CEU, Lund University and Utrecht University populated this questionnaire. To improve the quality of the answers provided in these questionnaires, a quality checking was conducted throughout the data collection period and a second quality check which targeted specific questions was conducted following completion of the questionnaires. Quality-checked questionnaires were subsequently published on the Atlas in the form of nature-based solution case studies.

All nature-based solution case studies included in the Urban Nature Atlas were reviewed and updated between June and November 2020. New data was additionally collected during that period. To find out more about this review and update procedure, please consult the "approach taken to data collection" section of the Methodology page.

As of May 2021, a global expansion of the Atlas was launched which sought to add further examples of nature-based solutions, with case studies this time having a global scope.


Will projects from other cities be included?

We are currently in the process of integrating the international case studies into the Atlas and the database is now also open to user-submission of projects from any other city across the globe. 


Data collection approach and process

How were nature-based solutions defined within the project?

According to the Naturvation project, nature-based solutions are seen as deliberate, manmade interventions which can be inspired or supported by nature in order to address urban challenges such as climate change mitigation, water management, land use and urban development (Bulkeley et al, 2017). Within the project, pre-existing green areas or structures were not considered to constitute de facto nature-based solutions. Instead, nature-based solutions are defined as being interventions which change or enhance the function of a green area/structure so that the current societal challenges can be better addressed. To be included in the Urban Nature Atlas, all case studies exhibit the following characteristics:

  1. Address various urban societal challenges (e.g. climate change mitigation, water management, coastal protection, human health and recreation, social justice); 
  2. Have function enhancing features which change or enhance the function of an area or structure; and
  3. Use nature as an inspiration to address an urban problem, manifesting as either a physical intervention or a discursive intervention. 
How was information about the cases studies collected?

Data was collected from secondary sources via discourse analysis which was based on specific guidelines. As information recorded in the database needs to be factual (without exception), answers submitted via the project questionnaires are only recorded in the database if an explicit reference can be provided. Data has been collected from various online sources, for example, from online databases which include nature-based solution good practices, scientific literature, local news articles, city administration webpages and green and blue infrastructure companies which themselves report examples of nature-based solution interventions.

To find out more about how data has been collected, please consult, Data Collection Process, on the Methodology page.

How did data collectors confirm that a nature-based solution addressed specific sustainability challenges?

The sustainability challenges addressed by nature-based solutioon projects were identified based on project goals, targets or implementation activities detailed by the source documents. If a project description or a document presenting the intervention mentioned an objective which aimed to address a specific challenge, the data team considered that the project addressed that specific challenge - even in the absence of evidence for actual observed impacts following implementation of the intervention.

How did data collectors confirm whether a project had impact monitoring or assessment activities?

In some cases, project documents specifically stated that evaluations were not performed. However, in many cases, no evidence could be found about monitoring activities in publicly available project documentation or in other relevant documents. Since data collection was strictly based on factual and referenced information, only those projects where evaluation was specifically mentioned as having been undertaken were recorded as such.

Why do some of the cases presented in the database appear at the same place, usually in the middle of the city?

It was not always possible to identify the exact street or district-level location of the nature-based solutions presented in the database. This is typically the case for city-wide projects (e.g. city tree-planting schemes), or for cases which include multiple locations (e.g. greening of bus stops). In such cases, the location was assigned as the centre of the city.


What are the main findings, which have emerged from the database?

CEU and the Ecologic Institute carried out basic profiling of the data collected, including statistical analysis of the nature-based solutions concerning the identification of general patterns of business and finance models, governance arrangements and stakeholder participation forms. The report compiled by CEU and the Ecologic Institute is available here.

For further publications about the Atlas, please visit the Visibility page and for assessment results, please visit the Analysis page. 

My project is presented in the database, but I would like to suggest changes or additions. Who can I contact?

If you would like to provide additional information or request modifications, please contact us via our contact form.

I would like to report a nature-based solution project. Is this possible?

Yes, since May 2021 it is possible for users to submit a new project. To know more about how to create a user account and submit a new project go to the  Add a Project page.