The Nature Restoration Law has (finally) been fully adopted!

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27 Jun

On 17 June 2024, the Council of the EU finally adopted the Nature Restoration Law - the first of its kind regulation on nature restoration – after months of political tensions. The adoption of this Regulation has been facilitated with a last-minute change in position by Austria making it possible for the Regulation to pass. This adoption is a true victory for Europe’s ecosystems & natural resources! EAA – as it has been voicing for many years – is excited to see this adoption which is very much needed to revert our historic ecosystem degradation.

This regulation will help Europe revert the consequences of ecosystem degradation harming our society, environment and economy

The now adopted EU Nature Restoration Law proposed by the European Commission in June 2022 – who aims helping the EU reaching its international commitments, in particular the Kunming-Montréal Global Biodiversity Framework agreed at the 2022 UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) – introduces new obligations to restore the coastal and freshwater, rivers and lakes, as well as other (marine) ecosystems. Over 80% of European habitats are in poor shape and the fact that past efforts to protect and preserve nature have not been able to reverse this worrying trend.
Regarding habitats which are in poor condition, the Nature Restoration Law enforces Member States to take measures to restore:
  • At least 30% by 2030
  • At least 60% by 2040
  • At least 90% by 2050
The adopted Regulation enforces Member states also to make efforts to prevent any significant deterioration of areas that have reached good conditions thanks to restoration and host the terrestrial and marine habitats listed in the regulation’s text.
As said before, the now adopted Nature Restoration Law is setting targets for the restoration of freshwater ecosystems alongside coastal and terrestrial ones, which include the restoration and re-establishment of areas, the restoration of habitats of species and the non-deterioration of the areas after restoration (article 4).
It also sets obligations to remove man-made river barriers in order to improve the natural longitudinal and lateral connectivity of rivers and contribute to the EU’s objective of restoring at least 25,000 km of free-flowing rivers by 2030 (article 7). Those targets complement the obligations of the Water Framework Directive and the Nature Directives and will contribute to improving the ecological status and the biological diversity of rivers, lakes and wetlands. However, it must be underlined that Europe’s rivers remain the most fragmented in the world , with a mean density of 0.74 barriers per kilometre .

Public pressure by organisations such as EAA has proved to be effective

This historic approval of the law and the perfect conclusion to a troublesome story would have never been possible without such overwhelming support: from NGOs to businesses, from scientists to activists, from decision-makers to citizens, millions of people mobilised to safeguard the future of Europe’s nature. It is thanks to their voices that the European Parliament and Council decided to listen and support this law.

The European Anglers Alliance (EAA) has been - since the launch of the Commission's proposal on this issue - advocating intensively at the European level for a strong support of this law in general and especially the proposed - and much needed - restoration objectives related to aquatic ecosystems. This by the public communication of EAA's position on this legislative proposal to European policymakers. 

Within the framework of the European Parliament Forum on Recreational Fisheries and Aquatic Environment, EAA has organised the "Biodiversity protection and restoration" event (November 2022) on the Nature Restoration Law inside the European Parliament in presence of several MEPs working on the file - MEP Niclas Herbst (Germany, EPP) & MEP Soraya Rodriguez Ramos (Spain, Renew Europe). 

The #RestoreNature coalition, consisting of EAA says: “The Nature Restoration Law has always been so much more than a law to bring back nature. It is a symbol that Europe can, and will, commit to fighting for the survival of our planet…We are very much aware of the current climate and biodiversity crises, but now the EU has an additional great tool to effectively tackle them. By bringing back our nature, Europe will be able to better face and mitigate the effects of the droughts, floods and other extreme events it is already experiencing.”

Next steps

The regulation will now be published in the EU’s Official Journal and enter into force. It will become directly applicable in all member states. Under the new rules, member states must plan ahead and submit national restoration plans to the Commission, showing how they will deliver on the targets. They must also monitor and report on their progress, based on EU-wide biodiversity indicators.

By 2033, the Commission will review the application of the regulation and its impacts on the agricultural, fisheries and forestry sectors, as well as its wider socio-economic effects.

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