The European Commission has recently opened a round of public consultations to aid a legislative proposal for setting binding ecological restoration targets for EU member states. The EU Nature Restoration Plan will contribute to the goal of the 2030 Biodiversity Strategy: to put Europe’s biodiversity on the path of recovery.
The recently published State of the Environment Report 2020 shows that there was limited progress from the 2010 baseline towards the 2020 targets. The EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 failed to deliver on the target to restore 15 % of degraded ecosystems. If the Commission does not learn from recent failures, attempting to make restoration targets binding for the Member States would probably be a project too ambitious. Here are some points that could inform the current legislative proposal:
- Targets must be based on best available scientific knowledge and complemented by citizen science and traditional ecological knowledge to support current monitoring and reporting.
- Trade-offs between biodiversity and climate actions should be avoided.
- Actions must be matched to particulars as restoration is situational.
- Restoration targets should be placed within a democratic governance framework.
- Free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples and local communities must be sought and obtained before fixing any legally binding restoration targets.
- A thorough evaluation of the impacts on fundamental rights by the actions suggested should be done.
- Restoration efforts should address the real drivers of biodiversity degradation, land abandonment being one of them.
- Aiming to restore primary forests is a nonsense.
You can read George’s response to the public consultation here: Recommendations to EU Nature Restoration Plan