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Nature Restoration Law, green light in the EU

'Nature Restoration Law' - the regulation for the restoration of natural ecosystems in the EU - was finally approved by the Council on 17 June 2024. The favorable position expressed by the Austrian Minister for Energy and Climate, Leonore Gewessler, has allowed to reach a qualified majority of Member States. Despite the votes against by Italy, Poland, Sweden, Finland, Hungary, and the abstention of Belgium.

The proposed regulation, as we have seen, encountered a long series of obstacles due to the boycott attempts of the 'European People's Party' (EPP), in the European Parliament, and the aforementioned national governments (1,2,3). Which, as we have seen, have drastically reduced the objectives of an initiative aimed at guaranteeing the restoration of biodiversity and the resilience of agricultural systems in the Old Continent. (4) Some ideas to follow.

1) Nature Restoration Law, objectives and responsibilities of the Member States

Member States will have to submit to the Commission specific draft national plans that include measures aimed at achieving the binding recovery objectives, in relation to:

– emerged lands and marine areas, with priority to areas protected by Natura 2000, for at least 20% by 2030

– habitats already protected by law which are now in degraded conditions. 30% by 2030, 60% by 2040, 90% by 2050

– peat bogs, essential for carbon storage and biodiversity recovery.
30% in 2030, 40% by 2040, 50% by 2050

– all degraded ecosystems, by 2050. With a commitment to maintaining the 'good condition' status of the various areas, when this has been achieved.

2) Biodiversity

The loss of biodiversity – which has been going on for decades, also due to inadequate European policies and therefore already censured by the 'European Court of Auditors' (5) – must be mitigated. By 2030, Member States will have to reverse the declining trend, with positive feedback on at least two of the following three indicators:

– presence of butterflies in the meadows (Grassland Butterfly Indicator)

– share of agricultural land with 'high biodiversity' landscape characteristics

– organic carbon stocks in cultivated soils.

3) Urban green spaces, forests, trees, rivers

Urban green spaces will not have to suffer net losses by 2030 compared to 2021, and they will have to be increased by 2050. Member States will therefore have to balance city building expansion with the recovery and maintenance of green areas. In a logic that is far from that of stopping land consumption everywhere, as an indispensable resource for preserving ecosystems and agriculture, invoked by civil society. (6)

Woods and forests will in turn have to recover a positive trend by 2030. And it is also established, among the binding objectives to be achieved by 2030, the planting of at least three billion trees in the EU. Within the same deadline, Member States will have to make at least 25.000 km of rivers navigable, removing anthropogenic barriers to surface water connectivity.

Dario Dongo

Footnotes

(1) Dario Dongo. Nature Restoration Law, the European Parliament boycotts the restoration of biodiversity. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 3.6.23

(2) Dario Dongo, Alessandra Mei. Nature Restoration Law, the European Parliament approves the proposal. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 12.7.23

(3) Dario Dongo. Nature Restoration Law, reduction of pesticides. MEPs at the service of agro-industrial lobbies. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 17.10.23

(4) Dario Dongo, Alessandra Mei. 'Nature Restoration Law', green light with downward agreement. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).

(5) Dario Dongo, Marina De Nobili. CAP, pesticides and biodiversity. Report from the EU Court of Auditors. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 29.7.20

(6) See paragraph 2.D in the previous article by Dario Dongo. Peace, Land and Dignity. Our movement in the 2024 European elections. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).

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