© Wild Wonders of Europe / Staffan Widstrand / WWF
Nature restoration

Towards an EU law to restore nature

We are losing nature at an unprecedented rate. Globally, one million species are threatened with extinction and the health of the ecosystems on which we depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever [1]. Europe is no exception, with 81% of protected habitats and 63% of species in the EU having a poor or bad conservation status [2].

To bend the curve of nature loss, protecting remaining natural places will not be sufficient – we need to invest in large-scale restoration as well. That’s why for the last four years, WWF has been advocating for an EU Nature Restoration Law with legally-binding targets to restore Europe’s degraded ecosystems.

In June 2022, the European Commission published its long-awaited proposal for an EU Nature Restoration Law. It’s the first European-wide law to set legally binding targets to restore biodiversity and degraded ecosystems, in particular those with the most potential to capture and store carbon and to prevent and reduce the impact of natural disasters. WWF welcomed this ambitious and strong legal proposal, but highlighted a few shortcomings.

Following its publication, the discussion on the proposal moved to the European Parliament and Member States as part of the EU’s co-decision process. WWF, together with other NGOs, had been working closely with both institutions to improve the text. However, an unprecedented disinformation campaign led by conservative and right-wing politicians resulted in a highly politicised and polarising debate around the legislation. 

Thanks to the successful, NGO-led #RestoreNature campaign, which received wide endorsement from various stakeholders, the proposal gathered a tight majority both in the Council and the European Parliament in the summer of 2023.

Together, we defended the EU Nature Restoration Law from being entirely rejected by the European Parliament. We scored a key win and the first EU law to bring nature back to our continent is now within reach. 
In autumn 2023, our aim was to ensure that the final negotiations, called ‘Trilogues’, lead to the adoption of the Nature Restoration Law that effectively tackles the devastating impacts of climate change and biodiversity decline. Given the challenging political context of the negotiations, we were relieved to see that an agreement was reached, although with significant loopholes. 
We now call on Member States and the European Parliament to approve the trilogue agreement, and not delay the much-needed restoration work that will help the EU fight the climate and nature crisis.

In the current context, it is essential for Europe to adopt its first-ever law to restore nature and protect its citizens and nature from the worst effects of climate change and biodiversity loss.

Let’s #RestoreNature, all around Europe!

"The restoration law is a huge opportunity to bring nature back before the climate and biodiversity crises spiral completely out of control. Restoration of ecosystems like peatlands, forests and seagrass meadows can help reduce emissions and sequester millions of tonnes of carbon each year."

Sabien Leemans
Senior Biodiversity Policy Officer


The benefits of nature restoration


Ecosystem restoration is not just about saving wildlife. A growing body of evidence shows that nature contributes to our overall health and wellbeing and provides significant socio-economic benefits, including sustainable jobs and ecotourism opportunities. Protecting and restoring nature and well-functioning ecosystems is also fundamental to tackling the twin crisis of biodiversity loss and climate change. 

Health benefits of nature restoration

From helping to reduce the risk of certain diseases to boosting our mental health, investing in nature restoration offers countless benefits to people's health and wellbeing.

Economic benefits of nature restoration

From strengthening local economies to restoring the social fabric of post-industrial regions, investing in nature restoration carries socio-economic benefits that far outweigh the initial costs.

Climate benefits of nature restoration

Restoring ecosystems to a natural state will enable them to absorb and store more CO2 and will increase our resilience to the impacts of climate change.
For more information:
Sabien Leemans
Senior Biodiversity Policy Officer
+32 486 80 04 37
Aleksandra Miklasinska
Communications Officer, Biodiversity
+32 456 37 60 64