EU Nature Restoration Law 'significant and highly positive step'

July 5, 2022

Nature is in decline globally and it clearly needs action at all levels if we are to bend the curve of biodiversity loss in a positive direction. The Wageningen Biodiversity Initiative (WBI) is therefore very pleased to welcome the long-awaited proposal for the new Nature Restoration Law, published by the European Commission on 22 June.

This will be a piece of overarching legislation whose targets will be binding on all of the EU Member States and which therefore has great significance for the future of biodiversity restoration, management and protection; not only at European level but also in the Netherlands and specifically within the Dutch provinces. The proposal combines an overarching restoration objective for the long-term recovery of nature in the EU’s land and sea areas with binding restoration targets for specific habitats and species.

Professor Liesje Mommer, leader of the WBI, said: “Through our work, we see the decline in biodiversity first-hand, in the Netherlands and globally. We therefore regard the European Commission's Nature Restoration Law as a significant and highly positive step in the right direction. It is up to us to actively contribute our knowledge to the delivery of the Law, both in the Netherlands and internationally, and cocreate the actions ‘on the ground’ with stakeholders. I hope we will move beyond ambitions, as time is pressing”.

Seven targets

There are seven legally binding targets for nature restoration; these aim to increase biodiversity, to secure ecosystem services like cleaning water and air, pollinating crops, and flood protection and contribute to limiting global warming to 1.5°C. There is also specific reference to how the law will help to “build up Europe’s resilience and strategic autonomy, preventing natural disasters and reducing risks to food security”. We particularly welcome this broad reference to the positive contribution the Law will make, in particular to food systems which we see as one of the key areas for society to make the transformational changes that are critical to bending the curve and one of the areas where Wageningen can really make a difference. Implementation will be supported by substantial EU funding, with around €100 billion available for biodiversity spending, including restoration.

National Restoration Plans

Member States will submit National Restoration Plans to the Commission within two years of the Regulation coming into force, showing how they will deliver on the targets and how they will carry out the work needed to identify the necessary restoration measures to meet the targets and obligations. Stakeholders need to be actively involved when drafting restoration plans to ensure plans are properly tailored to meet national circumstances. The WBI stands ready to play a role in the framing of the national plan and to make a strong contribution to the delivery of the seven targets set out in the Law.

Commenting on the news Lawrence Jones-Walters, Programme Director for Nature Inclusive Transitions at WUR, stated: “It is already clear that the Law will bring benefits for marine and terrestrial biodiversity, although achieving this at national level will require the involvement of a variety of sectors, disciplines and experts. The requirement for stakeholder involvement in developing the national plans is therefore very welcome and WUR is looking forward to bringing its multi-disciplinary approach, skills, knowledge and existing project and programme involvement to the table”.