The European Commission has proposed a nature restoration law (first major piece in biodiversity legislation since 1992). This opportunity will bring €100 billion for EU members to restore nature, reversing biodiversity loss and halving the use of pesticides.

The goal of the projected regulation is to reestablish natural degraded ecosystems such as forests, oceans and our agricultural land. The law is focused on those with most potential to remove and store carbon, and to reduce the impact of natural disasters.

The Greens/EFA party has celebrated the Commission’s decision, since they see it as a game changer for environmental protection: “No backtracking on climate action!”. They have particularly highlighted the importance of halving pesticide use by 2030 to ensure more sustainable food systems. The Greens have also acclaimed the targets and obligations to monitor and control what the states implement.

Virginijus Sinkevičius, EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries declared:

“The Nature Restoration Law is first & foremost for people. Europeans have been asking us to repair the damage done. They demand a healthy environment. We can deliver that together & for our farmers, foresters & all Europeans.”

When restoring nature goes hand in hand with tackling climate change

By this time of the year Europe is hit by extreme weather. Droughts have already started in Italy, and Spain has experienced severe flooding caused by intense rains…

Day by day, intensive agriculture and pollution are pressuring the land, leading to a decreasing number of habitats with good conservation. As reported by the European Environment Agency, 81% of protected habitats in the European Union are in poor condition.

Twitter picture – @TimmermansEU

In a new move of the EU’s executive arm, the nature restoration law demands ambitious changes in a gradual and possible way: land and sea restoration by 2030. Eventually, as per 2050, the target will reach all ecosystems in need of restoration.

How will the targets work?

Under the new law, 7 legally binding targets will apply for each EU state in 2030, 2040 and 2050. These targets will complement present rules and cover numerous fronts:

  1. Reverse the decline of pollinator populations by 2030.
  2. Stop loss of green urban spaces, also by 2030. And a subsequent increase of green urban spaces of 5% by 2050
  3. Remove river barriers in order to turn 25,000km of “controlled” rivers into “free-flowing” rivers by 2030.
  4. In terms of agriculture: overall increase of biodiversity and achieve progress for grassland butterflies, farmland birds…
  5. Rewet drained peatlands.
  6. In forest ecosystems: overall increase of biodiversity and a positive trend for forest connectivity, birds and stock of organic carbon.
  7. Restore marine habitats: species like dolphins, sharks, seabirds… as well as seagrasses or sediment bottoms.

The EU members will have two years after the adoption of the legislation to prepare their plans. They must include key elements and how to obtain financing. To ensure better results in the long-term, each state is going to decide what measures fit best for the country.

“The ecosystems in the EU and in the member states of the EU are so different that it is not possible from Brussels to define what are the restoration measures that work in Italy and in Finland and in Malta and in Greece,” a senior Commission official explained.

Will the Nature Restoration Law pay off?

The new law will benefit from around €100 billion, available for spending in biodiversity and ecosystems restoration. This investment includes food security, climate resilience and mitigation, and improved human health.

According to the EU executive, every €1 spent into nature restoration will add between €8 and €38 in economic value in the future, thanks to the ecosystem improvement the regulation supports.

For this legislation to be a turning point it needs to secure strong national enforcement:

 “To secure a future for humanity, restoring nature is just as important as tackling climate change, and this law sets the foundation for bringing biodiversity back from the brink in the EU. Setting concrete targets and securing strong national implementation tools can turn the tide in the fight against these twin crises, but only if they are enforced.

Ioannis Agapakis, lawyer at ClientEarth,

Carla Moure

Carla is a Journalist, Marketer and content creator. Born and raised in Barcelona, she moved to Canada to study International Business. She can speak four languages: Spanish, Catalan, English and French. Her areas of interests in the green field include Corporate Social Responsibility, ESG and Sustainable Development. Carla strongly believes communication is the most useful tool to shift minds towards a greener world.

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