Jun 22, 2022 02:11AM ET
The European Commission will propose legally binding nature restoration targets across the EU on Wednesday to halt the decline of wildlife populations and restore damaged habitats.
According to Virginijus Sinkevicius, head of EU environmental policy, the proposal would require EU countries to restore 20% of EU land by 2030 and meet individual targets for specific habitats and species.
In an interview, he said that nothing can replace the ecosystem services that the oceans, our soils, or our forests provide.
The EU has put its climate change goals into law but not its conservation goals.
The law would set binding targets to increase populations of farmed birds, reverse the decline of pollinators and return 25,000 km of rivers to their natural course by 2030. Countries must create national plans to contribute to EU-wide targets.
Intensive agriculture, deforestation, and urbanization contribute to the degradation of natural habitats.
Most protected habitats and species in Europe have a negative conservation status, and populations of one-third of bee and butterfly species are declining.
The EU proposal, which has already been postponed twice, needs approval from the European Parliament and EU countries, some of which have sought to delay or withdraw the sustainable agriculture measures, citing the impact of the Ukraine war on global food supplies.
Sinkevicius said the global food crisis is entirely due to Russia's blocking the export of millions of tons of Ukrainian grain, and if the destruction of nature is not stopped, Europe's agricultural options will eventually be limited.
Economic activities such as arable farming would not be banned under EU law on land where nature restoration measures are carried out