© 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.

In the Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, the European Commission announced that it will propose legally binding EU nature restoration 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 welcomes this proposal as a key tool to contribute to halting and restoring biodiversity loss and for climate change mitigation and adaptation. To be effective, the law needs to start acting immediately and have ambitious – and measurable – aims. 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 in early 2022. The Council of the EU and the European Parliament will then debate and amend the proposal in a co-decision process later in the year.

© Seppo Leinonen

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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
Bartosz Brzezinski
Senior Communications Officer for Biodiversity
+32 484 28 15 10