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Time to Restore: The EU Has Finally Approved the Nature Restoration Law

After several tense months, the Nature Restoration Law (NRL) was approved by the European Council on Monday. Of its 27 member states, 20 (including the Czech Republic) voted in favor. In total, 66% of EU’s population supported the law.

With this step, the EU has finally approved a long-negotiated standard. Although some of its ambitions were watered down during the sometimes heated negotiations, it will nonetheless usher in major changes.

What’s the NRL?

The goal of the law is to ensure that member states restore ecosystems on at least one fifth of all land and water areas by 2030. All damaged ecosystems should be restored by 2050.

What will this look like?

The identified sites (to be defined by the individual member states) will, for example, convert artificially straightened waterways into free-flowing undulating rivers, and wetland habitats (wet meadows, peat bogs, wetlands) will be restored, as will river floodplains and forest ecosystems (with an emphasis on improving their quality and resilience), as well as biodiversity in agricultural land.

Working with cities will be equally important, however. The wording of the law includes a passage about halting the loss of urban green spaces and the promotion of green infrastructure. The NRL is also dedicated to halting the decline of insect pollinators across ecosystems.

Why do we need it?

Healthy ecosystems provide many key services to the human race. They purify and retain water, clean the air, regulate the climate, capture and sequester carbon, reduce the impact of natural disasters (such as floods), and generally adapt to the changes that nature is going through.

What’s in store in the future?

The Nature Restoration Law will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union and will soon be valid. It will also immediately take effect in all member states.

They must prepare their national plans on how to achieve the objective set out in the law. Once they have discussed these plans with the European Commission, member states can start their restoration work and document it honestly.

By 2023, the European Commission plans to review the enforcement of the law, especially its impact on agriculture, fisheries, and forestry.

For more information, see Council press release or Birdlife International’s report.

P.S. The photos are from our sites where ecosystems are thriving. 🌱