The Nature Restoration Law aims to restore damaged ecosystems and bring nature back across Europe, as well as reduce the use and risk of chemical pesticides by 50% by 2030
From agricultural land and seas to forests and urban environments, the Commission are proposing a Nature Restoration Law to avoid ecosystem collapse and prevent the worst impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss.
They also aim to reduce the use and risk of chemical pesticides by 50% by 2030 to follow the Biodiversity and Farm to Fork Strategies and ensure food security and supply in the EU.
This proposal will help restore EU wetlands, rivers, forests, grasslands, marine ecosystems, as well as urban environments and the species they host.
These strategies can promote better food security, climate resilience, health, and well-being in the EU, and reduce the environmental footprint of the EU’s food system, subsequently protecting the health and well-being of citizens and agricultural workers.
They will also help mitigate the economic losses that we are already incurring due to declining soil health and pesticide-induced pollinator loss.
Repairing the 80% of European habitats that are in poor condition
The Commission has proposed legislation that fundamentally targets the restoration of Europe’s nature, to bring back nature to all ecosystems, from forest and agricultural land to marine, freshwater and urban ecosystems.
Under the Nature Restoration Law, efforts to improve the environment will be set with legally binding targets in different ecosystems, applying to every EU Member State.
The law will scale up existing experiences of nature restoration measures such as rewilding, returning trees, greening cities and infrastructure, or removing pollution to allow nature to recover.
The aim is to cover at least 20% of the EU’s land and sea areas by 2030 with nature restoration measures, and eventually extend these to all ecosystems in need of restoration by 2050.
Building on existing legislation and involving all members of EU society
Restoration closely involves and benefits all parts of society, so it must be done in an inclusive process. It must have a positive impact on those who directly depend on healthy nature for their livelihood, including farmers, foresters and fishers.
Investment into nature restoration adds €8 to €38 in economic value for every €1 spent, thanks to the ecosystem services that support food security, ecosystem and climate resilience and mitigation, and human health.
The Nature Restoration Law will set restoration targets and obligations across a broad range of ecosystems on land and sea. The top priorities include ecosystems with the greatest potential for removing and storing carbon.
The new law builds on existing legislation but will cover all ecosystems rather than being limited to the Habitats Directive and Natura 2000 protected areas. This aims to put all natural and semi-natural ecosystems on the path to recovery by 2030.
It will benefit from substantial EU funding: under the current Multiannual Financial Framework, around €100 billion will be available for biodiversity spending, including restoration.
The law requires the Member States to develop National Restoration Plans, in close cooperation with scientists, interested stakeholders and the public. There are specific rules on governance (monitoring, assessment, planning, reporting and enforcement) – which would also improve policymaking at national and European levels, making sure authorities consider together the related issues of biodiversity, climate and livelihoods.
What do the other proposed targets include?
- Reversing the decline of pollinator populations by 2030 and increasing their populations from there on,
- No net loss of green urban spaces by 2030, a 5% increase by 2050, a minimum of 10% tree canopy cover in every European city, town, and suburb, and a net gain of green space that is integrated into buildings and infrastructure,
- In agricultural ecosystems, an overall increase in biodiversity, and a positive trend for grassland butterflies, farmland birds, organic carbon in cropland mineral soils and high-diversity landscape features on agricultural land.
- Restoration and rewetting of drained peatlands under agricultural use and in peat extraction sites,
- In forest ecosystems, an overall increase of biodiversity and a positive trend for forest connectivity, deadwood, the share of uneven-aged forests, forest birds and stock of organic carbon,
- Restoring marine habitats such as seagrasses or sediment bottoms, and restoring the habitats of iconic marine species such as dolphins and porpoises, sharks and seabirds,
- Removing river barriers so that at least 25,000 km of rivers would be turned into free-flowing rivers by 2030.
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