Nature restoration stories prove planned EU law is huge opportunity

Posted on February, 03 2021

Restoring nature on land and sea would have huge benefits for people’s health and well-being and help tackle the biodiversity and climate crises.
A publication launched today by WWF brings this to life through a collection of real-world examples. These stories will be given the spotlight later today at a high-level virtual event joined by Virginijus Sinkevičius, EU Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries. WWF urges the European Commission to increase the positive impacts of nature by rapidly setting concrete binding restoration targets. 

Human activities have already significantly altered the natural world, causing catastrophic biodiversity loss and dangerous levels of climate change. Furthermore, the outbreak of Covid-19 has brought into sharp focus just how much human health and well-being and the health of our planet are inextricably linked. Nature restoration can be a key tool to address environmental degradation and to improve people’s livelihoods.

“Europe's nature and climate need a lifeline. One key part of that must be nature restoration, carried out with the involvement and support of local communities. The EU Commission must propose a target of at least 15% of land and sea to be restored by 2030, to tackle the twin crises of biodiversity loss and climate change and to reinvigorate Europe’s societies and economies,” said Ester Asin, Director at WWF European Policy Office.

WWF is advocating for the restoration targets to be set  at both EU and Member State level and  is calling for a focus on ecosystems with high carbon storage potential and those that contribute to mitigating floods, wildfire prevention and water retention, such as forests, peatlands, floodplains, biodiversity-rich grasslands, coastal areas and marine ecosystems such as kelp forests.

In addition, WWF is advocating for 15% of rivers to be restored to a free-flowing status in 2030 by removing physical barriers like dams. WWF is also calling for a target for CO₂ removal by natural sinks, as a separate target from the EU 2030 emissions reduction targets.

“The state of nature determines our health, our prosperity and our long-term security. And yet, only 15% of habitats and 27% of non-bird species are in good status in Europe. Hence, recovery from the coronavirus crisis needs to include the recovery of nature. Protection alone is not enough anymore, we need to actively restore our ecosystems to also help mitigate climate change and its effects. To drive this change we need a robust nature restoration law, with legally binding targets,” commented Virginijus Sinkevičius, EU Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries.

WWF’s publication goes beyond biodiversity and climate with a focus on local people, from the flourishing ecotourism in Romania to local cooperation with fishers in France, all of the stories clearly demonstrate that nature restoration benefits people and the planet alike. 


Join our event later today
From 15:00 - 16:30pm CET today WWF is hosting a virtual event Nature restoration: helping people, biodiversity climate to launch the new publication. The event will delve into the range of benefits nature restoration yields, from improving biodiversity to sequestering carbon, and the benefits for local communities and economies. Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries will give a keynote address, followed by testimonies from local stakeholders featured in the publication who will tell their stories of nature restoration. It’s not to be missed! Registration here.

Edel Shanahan
Communications Officer, Biodiversity and Agriculture
WWF European Policy Office 
+32 484 493515

[1] IPBES (2018): Summary for policy makers of the assessment report on land degradation and restoration.

See WWF’s biodiversity and climate pages for further information. 

Wetlands in Estonia
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