a new, clearly stated ambition of the European Commission

To have restored all their damaged ecosystems by 2050: this is the legally binding target set by the European Commission for the Member States in its new legal text, drawn up as part of its nature package.

In parallel with its proposal for a regulation on the sustainable use of pesticides, the European Commission presented a new legal text on the restoration of nature in Europe on Wednesday 22 June. The first of its kind on the EU scale, the Commissioners emphasize before describing the damage observed today to ecosystems: declining populations of pollinators, fish and amphibians, 80% of habitats protected and 70% of floors in poor . condition, 36% worsened … ” For nature to survive, it requires action summarizes Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice President with responsibility for the Green Deal for Europe.

Based on this observation, simply unacceptable The Commission has decided to set strict regulatory targets for Member States. By 2030, it will thus ensure an effective recovery of 20% of the EU’s land and sea areas: from cities to agricultural land and forests, from wetlands to rivers and even to the seas. A share that should be expanded to 100% by 2050.

A historic milestone

For nature to survive, it requires action

Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President of the European Green Deal

This obligation does not imply the creation of additional protected areas. Nor does it preclude the pursuit of economic activity on the ground, specifies the text and anticipates the fears of certain farmers, including the Copa-Cogecas and the FNSEA, to see ” placed under glass ‘Cultivated land and whole territories, especially private ones. That does not stop NGOs from, for once, hailing the initiative with enthusiasm. The BirdLife International Coalition, of which the LPO is a member, welcomes ” a big step forward “, described as” historical milestone for its level of ambition by WWF France.

This general course is complemented by several more precise targets, pollinators, birds or ecosystems, for example by prioritizing the most promising areas in terms of carbon elimination or storage. The reduction of the effects of natural disasters will also be particularly favored. In particular, the initiators of the text want to put an end to the reduction of green areas in the city by 2030 and then increase their surface area by 5% by 2050. They ask Member States to give each of their buildings a minimum of 10% wood cover. Buildings and infrastructure should also systematically include additional green spaces.

It hoped the return of pollinators, birds and dolphins

Actions are also expected to reverse the decline of pollinators by 2030, then increase their populations, as well as those of grassland butterflies and birds in agricultural and forest environments. The Commission hopes to see peatlands, drained for agricultural purposes, reclaimed and reclaimed along with the marine habitats and wildlife that inhabit them. Finally, obstacles to around 25,000 kilometers of river are expected to be removed by 2030. A measure that is likely to be particularly poorly received by France, which produces almost 26,000 megawatts (MW) of hydropower each year and hopes to further increase its production in the following year.

Countries will have two years to draw up their plan with their stakeholders, scientists and experts before submitting it for assessment by the Commission. A great way to take ownership of the process says Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries. For the latter, the impact of this law will go far beyond the simple regeneration of ecosystems. ” When we deal with soil erosion, we are also talking about food safety in the short and long term. When we restore wetlands, we help prevent flooding. Carbon storage is also allowed “, he comments.

A profitable investment

Although these measures will benefit from significant EU support for biodiversity, in the order of € 100 billion, the Commissioners do not consider the key economic aspect. ” We must put an end to this myth, according to which the protection of nature is only a cost without return. On the contrary, every euro invested in restoration is converted into 8 euros in gains, linked to the benefits of a healthy ecosystem., details Virginijus Sinkevičius, again in front of the remarks of the Copa-Cogeca. Ecosystem services that include human health, in addition to mitigating climate change, territorial resilience and food security. The most expensive thing we can do is do nothing Virginijus Sinkevičius insists.

Considered subject to Copa-Cogeca, which is particularly feared “arbitrary deadlines”, this proposal will then be considered by the European Parliament and the Council. If WWF had wanted to strengthen its monitoring and accountability mechanisms, “he added. ambitious targets for the restoration of waterways, river plains and peatlands “, After all, the NGO calls for its adoption and its swift implementation. Like BirdLife International, which considers it “a genuine attempt to tackle biodiversity breakdowns and climate change with real potential to improve the state of nature on a large scale; “.

Article published June 23, 2022

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