After decades of trying to convince governments and corporations to stop the exploitation and deterioration of nature, so little remains that protection alone cannot undo the damage done. Logging, intensive agriculture and overfishing have brought a million animal and plant species to the point where they are hanging by a thread. Natural habitats are disappearing. Ecosystems that used to be carefully balanced are now exposed to climate change. And ultimately, the natural disaster also affects people. It directly affects the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we grow, the places we live, and even exacerbate social injustices.
Conservation alone is no longer enough to remedy this. We have to usher in the era of restoring nature: we have to bring nature back.
With our #RestoreNature campaign, we wanted to show that restoring nature is essential in order to restore the climate and biodiversity crisis.
In just one month, 104,188 citizens from the EU and beyond participated in the EU public consultation on restoring nature. Ask the European Commission for a law that would make profound, transformative changes in the way our lands, rivers and seas are used.
The road to large-scale restoration of nature in Europe will be long and turbulent. Strong political pressure is crucial to ensure the incredible benefits of restoring nature are used, from saving species and tackling the climate crisis to preventing floods and ensuring food security. have priority over vested interests.
What is the EU doing now?
The public consultation on the Restoration Act has ended. The Commission is now working on an impact assessment until the summer and will continue to consult stakeholders on the implications and benefits of such a legislative proposal. Later, in the summer, each service in the Commission will evaluate the proposal, which should be published by the end of 2021.
In 2022 it will be up to the European Parliament and the Member States to position themselves on the Commission’s proposal.
Every step in the legislative process is an opportunity to strengthen or weaken the EU’s position to restore our ecosystems. This is why it is so important that the European Commission, Parliament and Member States listen to scientists’ recommendations, address the environmental emergency and stay in line with the Green Deal throughout the process.
We are now less than two months from the start of the UN Decade for Ecosystem Restoration. If the EU really wants to lead the global fight against the climate and biodiversity crisis, it needs a restoration law worthy of its name. And while the law will concern the restoration of nature in Europe, its impact could be global in the run-up to the negotiations on the Convention on Biological Diversity.
Let’s get specific. For real impact, the law needs to set a binding target to restore at least 15% of the EU’s land, seas and rivers to their natural habitats. At BirdLife, we will continue to be at the forefront of these discussions to ensure that the EU doesn’t just pass a new law, it makes history.
Further reading: BirdLife briefing to the Commission in response to the public consultation on the Restoration Act