Negotiators from EU member states, and the European Parliament reached an agreement on an essential new rule to restore at least 20% of Europe’s land and sea regions by 2030 and all ecosystems needing restoration by 2050.
It is the first European law that goes beyond nature conservation to actively restore ecosystems, intending to reverse the catastrophic degradation of many European environments.
According to the participants, Europe is confronting an increasingly severe reality in which the EU’s ecology and biodiversity are threatened and must be preserved, Euractiv wrote.
The law is a crucial component of the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, and it will assist the EU in meeting an international objective of restoring 30% of land and marine by 2030.
The deal provides the EU with “an important building block for mitigating the climate crisis and adapting to climate change,” according to participants. The Nature Restoration Law attempts to prevent species extinction in Europe.
Within two years after the law’s implementation, EU countries must develop national restoration plans outlining ways to restore degraded ecosystems through June 2032. They will then be required to track and report their advancement.
The ‘non-deterioration principle’ will also compel EU members to prevent severe deterioration in areas susceptible to restoration measures.
However, this rule has various exceptions, including renewable energy initiatives, military infrastructure, and deterioration induced by the climate catastrophe.
However, the idea was modified from the original wording, with negotiators making it effort-based rather than outcome-based, which means EU members will only have to compensate if the target is met.
The law specifies metrics and goals for specific habitats, such as forests, farming, urban ecosystems, freshwater and marine ecosystems, and promoting pollinator diversity.
In forests, for example, EU countries will be expected to implement measures that improve biodiversity and positive trends, such as bird populations and the amount of deadwood.
Meanwhile, if there is already 45% green space in urban areas, nations in the EU ought to guarantee no net loss of green space and canopy coverage by 2030.
The accord requires EU members to identify and eliminate man-made obstructions to attain 25,000 kilometres of free-flowing rivers by 2030.
The measures for agricultural ecosystems were the most contentious, with strong opposition from the European People’s Party (EPP), the largest political group in the European Parliament.
Finally, the measures in place were drastically adjusted. The EPP claimed the changes involve eliminating the demand to renature 10% of farmland and adding an emergency brake to freeze farmland targets if they impact food security or production.
Concessions were also made in the vicinity of rewetting peatlands. The legislation targets restoring 30% of drained peatlands to agricultural use by 2030, 40% by 2040, and 50% by 2050; however, heavily damaged nations might apply a lower proportion, and farmers will face no direct responsibility.
Meanwhile, ClientEarth campaigners claimed that the “numerous exemptions and lack of legal safeguards” set a dangerous precedent for EU lawmaking rather than putting the EU at the forefront of the biodiversity discourse.
The agreed-upon law still needs to be officially approved by the European Parliament and the EU’s 27 member states, and it remains to be seen whether enough EPP members support the final accord to make it law.