The European Parliament recently approved the Nature Restoration Law, marking a significant step towards the restoration of Europe’s ecosystems. The EU nature restoration law, agreed with member states, will restore degraded ecosystems in all member states, help achieve the EU’s climate and biodiversity objectives and enhance food security. This law sets a target for the EU to restore at least 20% of its land and sea areas by 2030, with a commitment to restoring all ecosystems in need by 2050. 

To reach the overall EU targets, member states must restore at least 30% of habitats covered by the new law (from forests, grasslands and wetlands to rivers, lakes and coral beds) from a poor to a good condition by 2030, increasing to 60% by 2040, and 90% by 2050. In line with Parliament’s position, EU countries should give priority to Natura 2000 areas until 2030. Once in a good condition, EU countries shall ensure an area does not significantly deteriorate. Member states will also have to adopt national restoration plans detailing how they intend to achieve these targets.

To improve biodiversity in agricultural ecosystems, EU countries will have to make progress in two of the following three indicators: the grassland butterfly index; the share of agricultural land with high-diversity landscape features; the stock of organic carbon in cropland mineral soil. Measures to increase the common farmland bird index must also be taken as birds are good indicators of the overall state of biodiversity.

As restoring drained peatlands is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce emissions in the agricultural sector, EU countries must restore at least 30% of drained peatlands by 2030 (at least a quarter shall be rewetted), 40% by 2040 and 50% by 2050 (where at least one-third shall be rewetted). Rewetting will remain voluntary for farmers and private landowners.

The law provides for an emergency brake, as requested by Parliament, so targets for agricultural ecosystems can be suspended under exceptional circumstances if they severely reduce the land needed for sufficient food production for EU consumption.