Restoring Europe’s marine environment
Posted on 24 January 2022
The new EU nature restoration law can help secure a healthy and resilient oceanIn 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.
Marine ecosystems have some of the highest carbon capture and storage potential on Earth. They also serve to prevent and reduce the impact of climate-induced disasters. However, the escalating climate crisis, high levels of pollution, unsustainable development and overfishing have seriously degraded the health of marine ecosystems at rates unprecedented in human history, from the shallow waters to the deep sea. To bend the curve of nature loss and avert catastrophic climate change, investment in effective marine protection and restoration is urgently needed.
Due to be published in March, the EU nature restoration law has the potential to be amongst the most important and effective pieces of nature legislation seen in recent years. With the development of this law, the EU has an extraordinary opportunity to reverse environmental decline and, at least partially, to remedy the long-term impact inaction will have on future generations.
The European Commission must ensure that the law will drive restoration at the scale needed to tackle both nature loss and climate change via strong, enforceable targets. For our ocean, a critical target WWF is advocating for in the law is the successful restoration of at least 15% of the EU marine area by 2030.
Strict protection and passive restoration are critically important for marine ecosystems to recover. It is equally crucial for restored areas to be protected to ensure they are not degraded again afterwards. This combined approach to restoration and protection will contribute to the EU’s 2030 Biodiversity objective of setting aside at least 30% of marine and coastal areas for protection, with one-third strictly protected.