European Parliament boosts nature restoration and protection, including forests

Posted on 08 June 2021

The European Parliament adopts its long-awaited position on the 2030 Biodiversity Strategy, sending an important signal to escalate the protection and restoration of nature in the EU.
This afternoon, the European Parliament rejected the main attempts to weaken the ambition of its own-initiative report on biodiversity. 

The final vote on the full report will follow later this evening, but its content is now clear: a year after the European Commission first presented the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, the Parliament has fully endorsed it and is calling for ambitious implementation by underlining the need for legally binding targets. 

Though non-legislative, the report sends an important signal to the Commission and the Member States that the EU needs to scale up the protection and restoration of nature if it wants to avert the worst consequences of biodiversity loss and climate change.

Reacting to the vote, Sabien Leemans, Senior Policy Officer for Biodiversity at the WWF European Policy Office, said:
The EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 has the potential to trigger the transformative change desperately needed to reverse biodiversity loss. Today, Members of the European Parliament have given the Strategy a much-needed boost by calling for strong legal instruments to aid in its implementation. We need to make large-scale nature restoration a legal requirement for all Member States because voluntary mechanisms simply do not work. Today’s vote is an urgent call to action.”

Crucially, the Parliament report calls for legally binding nature restoration of at least 30% of the EU’s land and seas, strict protection of all remaining old-growth and primary forests, and the revision of EU rules on the use of biomass for energy production, among other elements. The report also calls for the upcoming EU Forest Strategy to clearly prioritise climate and biodiversity protection and restoration as its central objectives. However, MEPs failed to recognise the need to integrate biodiversity as a key principle for forest management, via guidelines for closer to nature forestry.  

Overall the report is sending a strong signal of support to the European Commission to deliver on the European Green Deal commitments with its important next steps - the EU Forest Strategy and the proposal for an EU law to restore nature.

For further information:

Sabien Leemans
Senior Biodiversity Policy Officer
Bartosz Brzezinski
Communications Officer for Biodiversity & Agriculture
Tel. +32 484 28 15 10

Brown bear
Brown bear (Ursus arctos), in an old-growth forest in Slovakia. Old-growth forests are on the decline, but if protected and restored, they could help tackle the biodiversity and climate crises simultaneously.
© Tomas Hulik / WWF Slovakia