Nature based solutions for contaminated land remediation and brownfield redevelopment in cities: A review

Yinan Song, Niall Kirkwood, Čedo Maksimović, Xiaodi Zhen, David O'Connor, Yuanliang Jin, Deyi Hou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

130 Citations (Scopus)


Urban industrialization has caused severe land contamination at hundreds of thousands of sites in cities all around the world, posing a serious health risk to millions of people. Many contaminated brownfield sites are being left abandoned due to the high cost of remediation. Traditional physical and chemical remediation technologies also require high energy and resource input, and can result in loss of land functionality and cause secondary pollution. Nature-based solutions (NBS) including phytoremediation and conversion of brownfield sites to public greenspaces, holds much promise in maximizing a sustainable urban renaissance. NBS is an umbrella concept that can be used to capture nature based, cost effective and eco-friendly treatment technologies, as well as redevelopment strategies that are socially inclusive, economically viable, and with good public acceptance. The NBS concept is novel and in urgent need of new research to better understand the pros and cons, and to enhance its practicality. This review article summarizes NBS's main features, key technology choices, case studies, limitations, and future trends for urban contaminated land remediation and brownfield redevelopment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)568-579
Number of pages12
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2019 May 1


  • City planning
  • Clean up
  • NBS
  • Nature inspired
  • Reclamation
  • Soil pollution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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