European Institutions Agree On Nature Restoration Law

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After a series of lengthy negotiations, an agreement has been struck between the European Parliament, European Commission and the Council of the European Union on the Nature Restoration Law, which will now undergo an approval process before being formally adopted.

The European Parliament first voted in favour of the law back in June, however, numerous iterations and changes have been made since the proposal was first introduced, with the different institutions involved at odds over certain crucial elements of the text.

Examples of some contentious points were the inclusion time-bound obligations to restoration activities, as well as obligations to introduce high-diversity features in agricultural ecosystems.

While time-bound obligations serve as an excellent method to stimulate action on the ground, commentators have argued that it may prove tricky to link the effects of natural forces with hard deadlines, despite the best intentions and facilitative actions by stakeholders.

In relation to obligations to introduce high-diversity features in agricultural areas, some have expressed reservations on the use of obligations over incentivisation, which would inherently increase stakeholder buy-in and long term sustainability of biodiversity actions.

As of today, the Nature Restoration Law calls for EU Member states to restore 20% of all land and sea areas in the region by the end of this decade.

Additional targets for already degraded habitats are staggered with time-bound deadlines, with agreements to restore 30% of habitats by 2030, 60% by 2040 and 90% by 2050.

The agreement will also see different measures utilised across different ecosystems, with specific targets outlined for rivers, farmland, forests, uplands, coastal and marine areas, as well as towns and cities. In regards to agricultural and forested areas, the law will include indicators on trends to improve biodiversity.

The law must now be adopted formally by the European Parliament and Council, in conjunction with Member states creating national action plans reflective of the legislative changes.