Natural infrastructure refers to natural systems that provide solutions that assist with climate mitigation and adaptation/resilience. This can include the planting of trees to keep summer surface temperatures lower, absorb, filter and slow the path of stormwater to the Mississippi River, and absorb carbon from the atmosphere. The Saint Paul Climate Action and Resilience Plan sets a goal of increasing tree canopy coverage to 40%, with a focus on those parts of our community most vulnerable to the impacts of a warming climate and the urban heat island effect.
The planting of long-rooted prairie grasses and other plants that absorb and sequester in the soil more carbon dioxide than turf grass is another example of the use of natural infrastructure. Raingardens and stormwater ponds can help ensure that more stormwater infiltrates into the soil rather than running directly into stormwater pipes and to the River can improve water quality and reduce our community’s contribution to downriver flooding.