Nature is rapidly dying, causing severe impact on both people and the planet. Europe, with over 80% of its habitat too in a state of degradation, has introduced legislation for nature restoration. This important endeavor aims to reduce the continuous warming of our planet and to ensure a transformation in the well-being of our ecosystems as well. Recently MEP signed a deal to restore 20% of Europe’s land and sea by the end of 2030 and 90% by 2050. The said law has been crafted keeping in mind the concerns from critics who worry about its effect on agriculture.
European Union lawmakers and member states have reached an agreement on legislation that aims to safeguard nature. This significant law has been carefully crafted, taking into account concerns raised by critics who fear its potential impact on the agricultural sector. The nature restoration law, which has been a highly controversial part of the European green deal, will mandate that EU countries restore a minimum of 20% of the land and seas within the bloc by the end of the decade. It includes enforceable objectives to rehabilitate at least 30% of deteriorated habitats by then, with the aim of reaching 60% by 2040, and an ambitious 90% by 2050.
Politicians strongly disagreed about the law due to growing opposition against green policies in Europe. The European People’s Party, which includes Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission and a supporter of the green deal, almost rejected the bill completely in a July vote.
Environmental activists expressed cautious support for the agreement reached on Thursday night between the European Council and the parliament, which represents the member states.
Sofie Ruysschaert, Officer at the nature restoration policy at BirdLife Europe, said, â€œWe are relieved to see that the negotiators have not completely failed European citizens.â€
The EPP, the largest political group in the parliament, expressed satisfaction that other groups had adopted its position. They noted significant improvements in the text, such as the removal of a requirement to have 10% of farmland with landscape elements like hedgerows and flower strips. Additionally, a line was added to state that countries are not obligated to use money from the EU’s farming fund for nature protection.
The group also secured additional protections for farmers, such as a provision allowing the freezing of environmental targets in case of food production threats.
A German MEP who negotiated for the group, Christine Schneider, said, â€œWe welcome the fact that the final text on this law has little to do with the original proposal from the commission. The commission’s proposal was ideologically driven, practically infeasible and a disaster for farmers, forest owners, fishermen and local and regional authorities, especially in densely populated areas.â€
The European Union is also obligated to uphold global commitments. During a biodiversity summit in Montreal last year, world leaders made a pledge to safeguard 30% of the Earth by 2030. However, currently, only 17% of the world’s land and a mere 10% of its seas are effectively protected.
Josef Settele, an entomologist with the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research and former IPBES co-chair, said, “Negotiations over the law were an important step forward but the restoration of ecosystems on 20% of the area still falls short of the 30% target agreed by the global community. This shows that it is still not common knowledge that nature restoration can improve food production in the context of a transformation of the agricultural system.â€
MEP signed a deal to restore 20% of Europe’s land and sea as protecting nature is a cost-effective way of safeguarding communities from extreme weather events and a crucial tool to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. The European Commission estimates that every Euro invested in ecosystem restoration would yield a return of between â‚¬8 (£7) and â‚¬38.
Katrin B×¶hning Gaese, the director of the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre in Frankfurt, hailed the outcome of the negotiations, known as trilogues, for incorporating various sectors that were previously marked for elimination by the parliament.
â€œFrom a scientific and economic point of view, it is crystal clear that we need to protect and restore nature better if we want to live a good life on Earth today and in the future. The voice of reason has now prevailed in the trilogue; we can look to the future with more optimism for nature and people,â€ said Katrin B×¶hning-Gaese.
The law was met with strong opposition from various sources, including scientists, who criticized the campaign for spreading misinformation. The lead author and biologist, Guy Pe’er, said at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, â€œNature doesn’t read political texts; it will respond to what we do. If we fail on nature, we fail our future.â€