On 22nd June 2022, the Commission adopted pioneering proposals to restore damaged ecosystems
and bring nature back across Europe, from agricultural land and seas,
to forests and urban environments. Under this proposal for a Nature Restoration Law
legally binding targets for nature restoration in different ecosystems
will apply to every Member State, complementing existing laws. The aim
is to cover at least 20% of the EU's land and sea areas by 2030 with
nature restoration measures, and eventually extend these to all
ecosystems in need of restoration by 2050.
Over half of global
GDP depends on nature and the services it provides, and more than 75% of
global food crop types rely on animal pollination. The degradation of
nature and biodiversity has direct consequences for farmers. Today, soil
degradation across the EU affects 61 to 73% of agricultural land,
limiting Europe's ability to produce food in some regions. Erosion alone
is causing a loss of almost 3 million tonnes of wheat and 0.6 million
tonnes of maize per year. Globally, land degradation has already reduced
the productivity of 23% of the land surface, with up to USD 577 billion
in annual global crops at risk from pollinator loss.
is not about new protected areas. It is about living and producing
together with nature by bringing more biodiversity back everywhere,
including to the areas where economic activity takes place like managed
forests, agricultural land and cities.
The proposal does not put
any direct obligations on landowners, foresters, farmers or fishers but
only on Member States. It includes targets for agricultural ecosystems,
such as ensuring the recovery of pollinators and farmland bird
populations, rewetting peatlands and increasing landscape features like
hedgerows. This will require improvements in farming practices, with
many changes closely aligning with existing targets in the EU
Biodiversity and Farm to Fork Strategies.
agriculture is vital for the maintenance of many species and habitats in
biodiversity rich areas. There are many extensive agricultural
practices which have multiple and significant benefits on the protection
of biodiversity, ecosystem services and landscape features such as
precision agriculture, organic farming, agro-ecology, agroforestry and
low intensity permanent grassland.
Specific targets that focus on agricultural land include:
- Agricultural ecosystems
– increasing the grassland butterflies and farmland birds, the stock of
organic carbon in cropland mineral soils, and the share of agricultural
land with high-diversity landscape features; restoring 30% of drained
peatlands under agricultural use by 2030; and 70% by 2050;
- Reversing the decline of pollinator populations by 2030 and increasing their populations from there on.
In addition, with respect to agriculture, the Commission also proposes
to reduce the use and risk of chemical pesticides by 50% by 2030.
Chemical pesticides harm human health and cause biodiversity decline in
agricultural areas. They contaminate the air, the water and the wider
environment. The proposed new rules will reduce the environmental
footprint of the EU's food system, protect the health and well-being of
citizens and agricultural workers, and help mitigate the economic losses
that we are already incurring due to declining soil health and
pesticide-induced pollinator loss.
Photo: European Commission (EC) logo