In the beginning of November 2023, a provisional agreement was reached between the European Parliament and the Council on the Nature Restoration Law (the draft was adopted in June 2022); when enforced, it will be applied in all EU member states. The law will be a key contribution to reaching climate neutrality by 2050 and increasing Europe’s preparedness and resilience to the effects of climate change.
Biodiversity loss and the degradation of ecosystems continue at an alarming rate around the world and in the EU; the process is harming people, the economy, nature and the climate.
Over 80 percent of conservation status assessments for European habitat types presently are in poor or bad status with many further deteriorating, acknowledged the Commission, and past efforts to protect and preserve nature have not been able to reverse this worrying trend.
“Healthy nature means adequate supplies of clean water, cleaner air, cooler cities during heat waves, buffer zones against storms on the coasts and plentiful sources of food”, noted V. Sinkevičius, Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries.
European Environment Agency in its “State of Nature-2018 report” commenting on the work of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, IPBES showed that European ecosystems were under increasing pressure especially from land use and land use changes and were suffering from climate change and other threats such as nutrient pollution due to overuse of fertilizers and chemical inputs.
On IPBES in: https://www.ipbes.net/
Nature restoration law is a key legal instrument in reaching the EU’s ambitious climate mitigation and adaptation goals as an essential part of the European Green Deal. Besides, the economic cost of nature degradation is very high: every euro spent on restoration can deliver a return on investment of more than eight euro, depending on the ecosystem. Only healthy and productive ecosystems can provide the many services the EU states depend on, including resilience to natural disasters such as droughts and floods as well as long-term food security.
Main aspects of the law
The Nature restoration law should set in motion a process for continuous and sustained recovery of nature across the EU’s land and sea. As an overall target to be reached on EU level, the member states will put in place restoration measures in at least 20 percent of the EU’s land areas and 20 percent of its seas by 2030. By 2050 such measures should be in place for all ecosystems that need restoration.
The law will help the EU member states to meet the restoration target that they have committed to under the Kunming-Montréal Global Biodiversity Framework at the biodiversity COP15 in December 2022. This historic framework, which supports the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs and previous strategic plans, sets out an ambitious pathway to reach the global vision of a world living in harmony with nature by 2050. Among the framework’s key elements are several goals for 2050 and 23 targets for 2030.
On biodiversity framework in: https://www.cbd.int/gbf/
Different restoration targets will apply to different ecosystems in the EU member states; national governance will decide on specific national measures. For this purpose, the states will develop national restoration plans, with restoration needs and measures adapted to the local context and a timeline for their implementation; the states will develop these plans involving local communities and civil society.
The plans should seek synergies with climate change mitigation, climate change adaptation and disaster prevention, as well as with agriculture and forestry.
Specific objectives for various ecosystems will cover for example improving the state of the EU’s key land and marine habitats, urban ecosystems, rivers and floodplains, or improving pollinator diversity.
Note. The EU’s biodiversity strategy for 2030 is a comprehensive, ambitious and long-term plan to protect nature and reverse the degradation of ecosystems. The strategy aims to put Europe’s biodiversity on a path to recovery by 2030, and contains specific actions and commitments.
More information in the EU’s “Biodiversity strategy for 2030” in: https://environment.ec.europa.eu/strategy/biodiversity-strategy-2030_en#:~:text=The%20EU’s%20biodiversity%20strategy%20for,contains%20specific%20actions%20and%20commitments.