Nature Knows Best - Natural Solutions

How can termites keep you cool in summer? What have kingfishers got to do with high-speed trains? Find out from 'Natural Solutions'.


To highlight the immense contribution of the natural world in this International Year of Biodiversity, JNCC has a new element called ‘Natural Solutions’ on our website showing why biodiversity matters. 


Biodiversity, the great variety of living organisms, is the basis of more economic activity than most people recognize.  Our natural world provides not only the raw material but the inspiration for a host of goods and services that contribute to humanity’s basic needs and general well-being.


Biodiversity is the natural capital which has underpinned the development of all human societies. Aided by new technology that lets us peer into the organisation and operation of the natural world, scientists and engineers are continuing to draw inspiration and materials from biodiversity. Biodiversity is the critical resource on which we all depend


Kingfisher © Iana55/DreamstimeTransport and communicationShinkansen Train © Razanjp/Dreamstime

Nature has evolved some highly efficient ways of moving objects and information around.  Human designers can learn from this.  Japan’s Shinkansen trains are modelled on the aerodynamic shape of the common kingfisher Alcedo atthis.






Child in green space © Doriana_s/www.sxc.huHealthCrowded street © Angel Lior/

Studies show people who live near green space are healthier, happier and cope better with life’s challenges than people with less access to nature.  As well as providing us with medicines – about half of synthetic drugs have a natural origin – biodiversity boosts our well-being.








Leaf © tahdiul haq/www.sxc.huEnergySolar panels © Patrick Moore

Organisms in nature need energy just like human societies.  Plants have been harvesting solar power for about 2.5 billion years longer than humans.  By copying the microscopic bumps on plant leaves, designers have significantly improved the performance of solar panels.





Eastgate Centre © Mandy PatterTermite mound © Mercedes Lis..Materials and design

African termites Macrotermes michaelseni build structures that regulate the temperature of the nest below.  Using the same principles architects have designed buildings that save a fortune in air conditioning costs.  For any given environmental challenge some creature has usually already developed a solution. 






Ladybirds eating aphids © FalconStock/ DreamstimeFoodFarmer with pesticide © Leaf/ Dreamstime

Whether it is barley developed by selective breeding over thousands of years, berries collected on an outing in the woods, or beefsteak, biodiversity provides everything we eat.  In addition biodiversity can provide answers to some of the challenges facing agriculture, such as pest control without resorting to toxic chemicals.