The EGU supports the EU Nature Restoration Law encompassing all critical ecosystems
22 June 2023
The European Union’s proposed Nature Restoration Law aims to provide essential guidance and support to restore ecosystems, habitats and species across the EU’s land and sea areas. The proposed legislation comes at a critical moment when, despite EU and international efforts, biodiversity loss and the degradation of ecosystems continues at an alarming rate with up to 81% of protected European habitats in poor condition.
The effective implementation of the Nature Restoration Law not only has the potential to support the restoration of degraded ecosystems but also improve soil health and water management, support the mitigation of climate change(1), and increase Europe’s resilience to droughts, floods, and other extreme weather events that threaten livelihoods(2) and support long-term food security(3). The EGU encourages both the European Parliament and Council to consider the scientific evidence supporting the benefits of nature restoration when debating and amending the Nature Restoration Law in the upcoming discussions.
While the EGU welcomes the science-based approach used throughout the proposed version of the Nature Restoration Law, we encourage decision-makers to reflect on the critical role that forest ecosystems and peatlands play in Europe’s biodiversity and climate change targets. Using a science-based approach to restore and manage forest ecosystems will not only support Europe’s biodiversity targets but also promote carbon sequestration, improve soil health and productivity, increase resilience to disturbances (such as droughts, pest attacks and forest fires), enhance these ecosystems’ long-term adaptability to recover and continue to provide habitat connectivity necessary to facilitate biodiversity . Likewise, healthy peatlands have a myriad of benefits, storing almost 30% of all soil carbon despite only representing 3% of the world’s land surface . The EGU therefore believes that strengthening the ecosystem targets with regards to both these ecosystems in EU’s Nature Restoration Law is necessary to fight continent-wide biodiversity loss and promote Europe-wide sustainability.
Despite the need for improvements on these specific aspects, the EGU believes that the EU Nature Restoration Law is a positive step for protecting and enhancing biodiversity, and will enable the EU to take a global leadership role in many aspects of societal and environmental sustainability. It serves as a timely and critically important blueprint for other regional bodies and countries to follow and enact. Meaningful, strong, and strategic actions on biodiversity are critical for our understanding of how different species respond to both past and future environmental change.
The European Parliament and Council’s discussion on specific amendments and the EU Nature Restoration Law will be picked up again later this month and continue on in July 2023. It will be closely followed by the EGU Biodiversity Task Force and wider community. You can read more about the EU Nature Restoration Law and recommendations previously provided by the EGU Biodiversity Task Force here.
Sources (as referenced above 1-5):
1) Carbon stocks and sequestration in terrestrial and marine ecosystems: a lever for nature restoration?
2) Nature-based solutions: Benefits and opportunities
3) Projected landscape-scale repercussions of global action for climate and biodiversity protection
4) Secretariat of the CBD Technical Series No. Convention on Biological Diversity, Forest Resilience, Biodiversity, and Climate Change
5) Protecting peatlands for people and planet
As Europe’s largest geoscience society, the European Geosciences Union (EGU) is uniquely positioned to facilitate the transfer of knowledge from research into practice and to connect policymakers to the most relevant geoscience experts. In early 2022, EGU’s Science for Policy Working Group created the EGU Biodiversity Task Force with the aim of bridging the gap between science and policy, delivering scientific information and expertise to where it is most needed. The Task Force is also available to support policymakers on both a European and Member State level by answering evidence-based questions, translating scientific research, participating in meetings, writing fact sheets, and providing summary documents to help policymakers understand the legislative relevance of ground-breaking geoscience research. For further information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.