Brussels on Wednesday proposed a law aimed at repairing by 2030 the damage caused to nature in 20% of Europe's damaged ecosystems, in order to protect biodiversity, in particular bee populations, but also to limit the risk of natural disasters.
This legislative project of the European Commission, which will be discussed by the Member States and the MEPs, will impose binding objectives for the restoration of ecosystems (forests, meadows, marine areas, etc.) damaged by pollution, the abuse of pesticides and fertiliser, the intensive use of soil or the disappearance of wetlands.
“For thirty years, we have been concentrating on the preservation of habitats, but this is no longer enough to reverse biodiversity loss: too much of our nature is destroyed or degraded, 81% of natural habitats in the EU are in poor condition”, underlined Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius.
“This law will require that by 2030, effective restoration measures are in place on 20% of damaged land and sea areas, and by 2050, on all ecosystems in need,” he added. .
Each State will be required to draw up a “restoration plan” according to strict planning and evaluation rules, with priority given to “carbon sinks” (forests, peat bogs, etc.) likely to store CO2.
The Twenty-Seven will have to maintain their surface of green spaces in the city at the level of 2021, while guaranteeing at least 10% of wooded spaces in each agglomeration. Brussels also wants to remove dams and obstacles on rivers and rivers, in order to reach “at least 25,000 km” of “free” waterways by the end of the decade.
As many ways to increase biodiversity (birds, butterflies, fish…) in forests, countryside and maritime environments, and to reverse the decline of pollinator colonies – highly threatened and on which a major part of European cultures depend.< /p>
Some €100 billion of the EU's multi-annual budget will be available for biodiversity, including these restoration plans, says the Commission.
“We must destroy the myth that this is wasted money: every euro invested in natural restoration will bring in at least 8 euro through the benefits of healthy ecosystems: preventing soil erosion enhances food security, restoring wetlands avoids flooding downstream,” Sinkevicius argued.
This is “a historic milestone”, welcomed Arnaud Gauffier, of WWF France, while calling on States and parliamentarians to specify “ambitious objectives for the restoration of waterways, floodplains and peat bogs”.< /p>
The MEP Marie Toussaint (Greens) however deplored a still fragile judicial arsenal: the Commission “is showing voluntarism (…) but the EU still has work to do to allow better access to justice” in order to prosecute those responsible environmental damage.