© 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 found to be in 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.

In the Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, the European Commission announced that it will propose legally binding EU nature restoration targets in 2021 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 welcomes this proposal as a key tool to contribute to halting and restoring biodiversity loss and for climate change mitigation and adaptation. We are advocating for the following restoration targets by 2030:

  • At least 15% of both EU's land and sea area to be restored
  • 15% of rivers restored to a free-flowing state
  • ​A target for CO₂ removal by natural sinks as a separate target from the EU 2030 emission reduction target

​The Commission is expected to publish its legal proposal by the end of this year. The Council of the EU and the European Parliament will review and amend the proposal in a co-decision process in 2022.

The benefits of nature restoration

 

Ecosystem restoration is not just about protecting 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.
For further information:
Sabien Leemans
Senior Biodiversity Policy Officer
+32 486 80 04 37
@SabienLeemans
Bartosz Brzezinski
Communications Officer for Biodiversity and Agriculture
+32 484 28 15 10
@bartosz_wwf