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EU Parliament passes historic nature restoration directive aiming for complete ecosystem recovery by 2050

EU Parliament passes historic nature restoration directive aiming for complete ecosystem recovery by 2050

In a landmark decision in February 2024, the European Parliament passed the Nature Restoration Directive, setting ambitious targets to restore 20% of the European Union's land and sea areas by 2030, with the ultimate goal of achieving full ecosystem restoration by 2050.

This directive responds to the growing concern for climate change and biodiversity loss, aligning with the UN Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework's objectives to promote the recovery of damaged natural environments across the EU.

The legislation emerges as a response to public demand for stronger action on biodiversity, landscape, and ocean restoration, echoing the sentiments expressed during the Conference on the Future of Europe. It aims to rejuvenate degraded ecosystems within all member states, thereby supporting the EU's broader climate and biodiversity goals, as well as enhancing food security.

Under the new law, EU member states are required to:

- Restore at least 30% of specified habitats (including forests, grasslands, wetlands, rivers, lakes, and coral beds) from poor to good condition by 2030, with targets increasing to 60% by 2040 and 90% by 2050.

- Focus on restoring Natura 2000 areas by 2030 and prevent their significant deterioration in the following years.

- Develop national restoration plans that outline strategies to meet these targets.

- Evaluate agricultural ecosystems using biodiversity improvement indicators like the grassland butterfly index and organic carbon stock. The law allows for an emergency brake to suspend targets for agricultural ecosystems under exceptional circumstances that threaten EU food production sufficiency.

- Encourage positive trends in forest ecosystem indicators and the planting of three billion trees.

- Restore at least 25,000 kilometers of rivers to a free-flowing state and ensure no net loss in urban green spaces and tree canopy cover.

César Luena, the rapporteur for the legislation, emphasised the importance of shifting from merely protecting and conserving nature to actively restoring it. He highlighted the role of scientific evidence in combating climate denial and thanked the younger generation for underscoring the urgent need for environmental action, reminding everyone that "there is no planet B, nor plan B."

The directive, which received 329 votes in favour, is now awaiting the Council's approval before it can be published in the EU Official Journal and come into effect 20 days later, marking a significant step towards environmental recovery and sustainability in the EU.


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