THE HAGUE (June 17, 2024) — Today, a qualified majority of the European Union Environmental Council voted in favor of the Nature Restoration Law, thereby giving the final green light to the first law of its kind in the EU – to protect and restore Europe’s forests, land, coastlines, lakes, ocean and overall biodiversity. The Nature Restoration Law aims at rehabilitating at least 20% of the European Union's land and sea areas by 2030 and all degraded ecosystems by 2050. An earlier agreement almost a year ago between the European Parliament and the Council failed to pass a final vote in March 2024.

The need to protect EU’s nature and forests better is underscored by WRI’s recent analysis of four growing threats to Europe’s forests. The harvesting of tall forests, climate change-induced wildfires, insect outbreaks, and, most recently, increased wood harvesting for “home-grown” biomass in response to the Ukraine-related energy crisis, are deteriorating forest health in the EU.

Following is a statement from Janneke de Vries, Director EU Partnerships of World Resources Institute (WRI):

“Today marks a pivotal victory for Europe’s people, nature and climate alike. We now have a law in place to protect the environment, to underpin healthy ecosystems for our food security, to safeguard clean water, preserve our health and to protect us against extreme weather. 

“Following four years of divisive political debate, the law’s passage will establish ambitious climate and biodiversity targets and position the EU as a global leader on climate issues. We must now follow up with rapid action.  Much of Europe is facing biodiversity collapse and the EU must ensure it meets international commitments, including those made at the Biodiversity COP15.”