top of page

Nature Restoration Law Receives Final Approval from EU Council

Nature Restoration Law Receives Final Approval from EU Council

The Council of the European Union has formally adopted the first-ever regulation on nature restoration. This groundbreaking law aims to restore at least 20% of the EU's land and sea areas by 2030 and all ecosystems in need of restoration by 2050.

The law sets legally binding targets and obligations for the restoration of various ecosystems, including terrestrial, marine, freshwater, and urban areas.

Historic Regulation for Nature Restoration

The nature restoration law represents a monumental effort to:

  • Mitigate climate change

  • Address the impacts of natural disasters

  • Fulfill the EU's international environmental commitments

  • Revitalize European nature

Alain Maron, Minister for Climate Transition, Environment, Energy, and Participatory Democracy of the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region, expressed his satisfaction with the Council's decision:

"I am pleased with this positive vote on the Nature Restoration Law, which was agreed between the European Parliament and the Council almost a year ago. It is the result of hard work, which has paid off. There is no time for a break in protecting our environment. Today, the Council of the EU is choosing to restore nature in Europe, thereby protecting its biodiversity and the living environment of European citizens. It is our duty to respond to the urgency of the collapse of biodiversity in Europe, but also to enable the European Union to meet its international commitments. The European delegation will be able to go to the next COP with its head held high."

Key Objectives and Targets

The nature restoration law sets out specific and ambitious goals for restoring degraded ecosystems across the EU's land and sea habitats. These targets are designed to reverse biodiversity loss and enhance ecosystem health over the coming decades.

Here are the key objectives and targets outlined in the regulation:

Restoration Targets

By 2030:

Restore at least 20% of the EU's land and sea areas. This broad target aims to significantly improve the state of a substantial portion of the EU's ecosystems within a decade.

Targets for Habitats in Poor Condition

For habitats currently classified as being in poor condition, the regulation sets progressive restoration targets to ensure ongoing improvements over time:

By 2030:

Restore at least 30% of these degraded habitats. This initial target focuses on making significant strides in the first phase of the restoration effort.

By 2040:

Restore at least 60% of these habitats. The midpoint target emphasizes continued commitment and progress, building on the initial decade of restoration work.

By 2050:

Restore at least 90% of these habitats. The long-term goal aims to bring nearly all degraded habitats back to a healthy state, ensuring sustainable ecosystems for future generations.

Non-Deterioration Efforts

In addition to active restoration, member states must make efforts to prevent significant deterioration in areas that have already reached good condition. This involves protecting and maintaining the health of terrestrial and marine habitats that are currently in a favorable state, ensuring they continue to provide ecological benefits and biodiversity support.

Ecosystems Covered

The nature restoration law encompasses a broad spectrum of ecosystems, each critical for maintaining biodiversity and ecological balance.

Here’s a detailed look at the specific ecosystems targeted by the law:

Terrestrial Ecosystems

  • Wetlands: These include marshes, swamps, and bogs. Wetlands are crucial for water purification, flood control, and providing habitat for diverse flora and fauna. Restoration efforts will focus on re-establishing natural hydrology and reintroducing native plant species.

  • Grasslands: This category includes prairies and savannas. Grasslands are vital for carbon sequestration and support a range of wildlife, particularly pollinators. Restoration will involve controlled burns, replanting native grasses, and managing invasive species.

  • Forests: Encompassing both temperate and boreal forests, these areas are essential for carbon storage, soil health, and biodiversity. Efforts will focus on reforestation, sustainable forestry practices, and restoring natural fire regimes.

Coastal and Freshwater Ecosystems

  • Rivers: Restoration of river ecosystems aims to improve water quality, restore natural flow regimes, and remove barriers such as dams to allow for fish migration and improve aquatic habitats.

  • Lakes: Efforts in lake ecosystems will focus on reducing pollution, managing invasive species, and enhancing habitats for native fish and aquatic plants.

  • Coastal areas: This includes beaches, dunes, and estuaries. Restoration efforts will involve managing erosion, restoring native vegetation, and protecting these areas from development.

Marine Ecosystems

  • Seagrass Beds: These underwater meadows are essential for marine life, carbon sequestration, and coastal protection. Restoration will involve replanting seagrass, reducing water pollution, and managing activities that damage these habitats.

  • Sponge Beds: Sponges play a critical role in filtering water and providing habitat for other marine species. Restoration efforts will include protecting these areas from destructive fishing practices and pollution.

  • Coral Reefs: Vital for marine biodiversity, coral reefs are threatened by climate change and human activities. Restoration will focus on coral transplantation, reducing coastal runoff, and managing tourism and fishing practices to protect these delicate ecosystems.

Each of these ecosystems plays a pivotal role in maintaining the overall health of the environment. The nature restoration law's comprehensive approach ensures that diverse habitats receive the necessary attention and resources to thrive again.

Protecting Pollinators and Enhancing Biodiversity Under the Nature Restoration Law

A notable aspect of the nature restoration law is its strong emphasis on reversing the decline of wild insect pollinators by 2030. Pollinators, such as bees, butterflies, and other insects, are crucial for the health of ecosystems and agriculture, playing a vital role in the pollination of many crops and wild plants.

Here are the specific measures being implemented under the law:

Agricultural Land

  • Improve Grassland Butterfly Populations: Grasslands will be managed to support butterfly habitats through practices such as rotational grazing, controlled burns, and planting native flowering plants that provide nectar and breeding sites.

  • Increase the Stock of Organic Carbon in Cropland Soils: This involves adopting sustainable farming practices such as cover cropping, reduced tillage, crop rotation, and organic farming techniques. These practices enhance soil structure, increase organic matter, and sequester carbon, benefiting both crop yields and the environment.

  • Enhance the Diversity of Agricultural Landscapes: Efforts will be made to create and maintain high-diversity landscape features such as hedgerows, buffer strips, and wildflower margins. These features provide habitats for pollinators and other wildlife, contributing to overall biodiversity and ecological resilience.


  • Boost Forest Bird Populations: Forest management practices will be adjusted to create a mosaic of habitats suitable for different bird species. This includes maintaining old-growth trees, dead wood, and varied understory vegetation to provide nesting sites, food sources, and shelter for birds.

  • Ensure No Net Loss of Urban Green Spaces and Tree Canopy Cover by 2030: Urban planning will prioritize preserving and expanding green spaces such as parks, community gardens, and green roofs. Increasing tree canopy cover will involve planting more trees in urban areas, protecting mature trees, and integrating green infrastructure into new developments.

Additional Measures for Member States

  • Restoring Drained Peatlands: Peatlands, which are significant carbon sinks, will be re-wetted and restored to their natural state. This involves blocking drainage channels, replanting native vegetation, and managing water levels to support peat formation and biodiversity.

  • Planting at Least Three Billion Additional Trees by 2030: A large-scale reforestation and afforestation effort will be undertaken to plant native tree species in degraded areas, agricultural land, and urban spaces. This will enhance carbon sequestration, provide wildlife habitats, and improve air quality.

  • Removing Man-Made Barriers to Create 25,000 Kilometers of Free-Flowing Rivers by 2030: Efforts will focus on dismantling obsolete dams and weirs, restoring natural river courses, and implementing fish passages to improve connectivity and health of aquatic ecosystems. This will benefit fish migration, sediment transport, and overall river biodiversity.

These comprehensive measures demonstrate the EU's commitment to enhancing biodiversity and ecosystem health across various landscapes. By focusing on pollinators, forest health, and the connectivity of aquatic systems, the nature restoration law aims to create a more resilient and sustainable environment for future generations.

National Restoration Plans and Future Reviews

To achieve the ambitious goals set by the nature restoration law, member states must undertake several critical actions:

National Restoration Plans

Each member state is required to draft and submit comprehensive national restoration plans to the European Commission. These plans must detail the specific strategies and actions that will be implemented to meet the restoration targets set by the law. The plans should address how member states will prioritize different ecosystems, allocate resources, and engage stakeholders in the restoration process.

Monitoring and Reporting

Member states must establish robust monitoring systems to track the progress of their restoration efforts. They are required to report on their progress regularly using standardized EU-wide biodiversity indicators. These indicators will help assess improvements in habitat conditions, species populations, and overall biodiversity health. The data collected will be crucial for evaluating the effectiveness of the restoration measures and ensuring transparency and accountability.

Implementation and Review

  • Regulation Publication: The regulation will be officially published in the EU's Official Journal, which marks its formal adoption. Once published, the regulation will become directly applicable in all member states, meaning that the provisions of the law will be legally binding without the need for additional national legislation.

  • Commission Review by 2033: The European Commission will conduct a comprehensive review of the regulation's application by 2033.

This review will assess:

  • The Regulation's Application: Evaluating how effectively the member states have implemented the restoration measures and whether the set targets are being met.

  • Impacts on Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry: Analyzing the regulation's effects on these key economic sectors to ensure that the restoration efforts are balanced with the needs of these industries. The review will consider both positive outcomes, such as increased sustainability, and potential challenges, such as adjustments required by farmers, fishers, and foresters.

  • Broader Socio-Economic Effects: Assessing the wider socio-economic implications of the restoration efforts, including impacts on employment, community well-being, and economic development. The review will aim to ensure that the restoration efforts contribute to sustainable development goals and deliver benefits to society as a whole.

Background and Context

The European Commission proposed the nature restoration law on June 22, 2022, as part of the EU biodiversity strategy for 2030, under the European Green Deal. This initiative responds to the alarming state of over 80% of European habitats, which are currently in poor condition.

Previous efforts to protect nature have not been sufficient to reverse this trend, necessitating this comprehensive approach to not only preserve but actively restore nature.

Key points about the background:

  • EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030

  • European Green Deal

  • State of European habitats: Over 80% in poor condition

  • Kunming-Montréal Global Biodiversity Framework: Agreement at the 2022 UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15)

In conclusion, the adoption of the nature restoration law is a pivotal step towards a sustainable future, addressing both the ecological and socio-economic dimensions of environmental restoration. The law's comprehensive measures and ambitious targets reflect the EU's dedication to reversing biodiversity loss and mitigating climate change.


We invite you to join our vibrant ESG community, a collective force driving positive change. This is your opportunity to be part of a dynamic network where knowledge, best practices, and innovative ideas are shared freely, empowering you to make impactful decisions.

Together, we can amplify our efforts to shape a sustainable future.

Join us and become a catalyst in the global movement towards a more equitable, environmentally responsible, and socially conscious business landscape.


Subscribe to our newsletter  Don’t miss out!

Thanks for subscribing!

a black board with letters community

Building Bridges, Not Walls, for Global Unity

Explore ESGinie


Your AI Sustainability Assistant


Latest Posts

bottom of page