An ambitious Nature Restoration Law needed



Our natural science collections record our planet's extraordinary biodiversity, but also show what we have already lost. (Image RBINS/T. Hubin)
An ambitious Nature Restoration Law needed
post by
Kelle Moreau

On Thursday 15 June 2023, the European Parliament's Environment Committee will vote for the Nature Restoration Law that was proposed by the European Commission as a key element of the EU Biodiversity Strategy/EU Green Deal. If approved, the proposal will become the first continent-wide, comprehensive law of its kind, which calls for binding targets to restore degraded ecosystems. Such restoration will increase the capture and storage of carbon, helps to reduce the impact of natural disasters and ultimately also benefits employment and food security.

To reinforce the need for an ambitious Nature Restoration Law, and in the face of opposition from the Agricultural and Rural Development (AGRI) and Fisheries (PECH) Committees, six large European scientific institutes launched an open letter calling the leaders of the European Union and the members of the Environment Committee to vote in favour of the Nature Restoration Law. The initiative is backed by the CETAF network (Consortium of European Taxonomic Facilities), which gathers more than 70 European natural history museums and botanic gardens.

Open letter to the leaders of the European Union

Dear Ministers and Members of the European Parliament,

We, Natural Science Institutes from Europe, are writing to you to ask to show leadership for nature, by protecting and restoring the ecosystems of our continent, for the benefit of all.

We are concerned, very concerned.

As custodians of the natural world’s heritage, hosting 80% of the world’s described species, we wish to play our societal role: alert European citizens - and you - about the dramatic state-of-play of biodiversity on our planet. With our natural science collections, we know and can show you what we have already lost, what has been lost during the last centuries, mostly because of unsustainable human actions. With currently one million species at risk of extinction we hope you will take the right decisions to avoid nature to be found only in our museums.

In addition to the nature crisis, climate change is accelerating. We see more and more heat waves, droughts, floods and forest fires – extreme weather that is already claiming lives and damaging all ecosystems. With more and more impacts on our crops, worsened by the collapse of insect populations, Europe’s food security and the livelihoods of many of its citizens are at risk. Even the global and European economy are being threatened, as half of world GDP is directly linked to biodiversity.

Report after report, from regional or national studies to international organizations such as IPCC1 and IPBES2, the science is clear: we must act now, not only on climate but also on biodiversity, as both are intricately and inseparably linked. That is why we are addressing you today.

There is still hope but this is our last chance. To counteract natural disasters, to ensure our future on Earth, we have a powerful ally on our side: nature.

All over Europe there are hundreds of examples of pioneering projects and initiatives to protect and restore nature, from our coasts to our soils, our forests to our cities. They create win-win situations: they benefit local communities, our biodiversity and protect us against climate change. With more nature on our side, we ensure our own health, our well-being, our economy and our future on Earth.

We are restoring river systems, wetlands, forests and marine environments everywhere in Europe to once again enjoy natural environments, with wildlife flourishing and providing access to clean water. And that is important and needs to continue. But this is not enough. Biodiversity cannot be protected if we focus only on Natura 2000 areas alone. Nature is all around us, in our cities, in our agricultural areas, even in our industrial zones. We need to find a way to live and work together with nature. Not just protect it, but regard it as our partner. Our most important partner, influencing our wellbeing and our economic development. Living together with nature will provide thousands of jobs and income all over Europe and is the only way forward towards a sustainable future.

We urge you to vote in favor of an ambitious and strong Nature Restoration Law, as proposed by the European Commission3 and, by doing so, respect the commitments under the Global Biodiversity Framework4 adopted by you at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity COP15 in Montréal last December.

We are convinced the legislative package proposed by the European Commission is the right approach, based on science. All Europeans will enjoy plentiful benefits if you support the proposal for a Nature Restoration Law, which sets legally binding targets for ecosystems restoration. You have the chance to ensure that humans and nature can continue to live together in harmony.

We are counting on you to ensure this. You hold the power in your hands. Let's restore nature, now! We will be on your side to solve these global challenges, together.

Yours sincerely,

Michel Van Camp, Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Brussels, Belgium

Bruno David, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France

Edwin Van Huis, Naturalis, Leiden, The Netherlands

Doug Gurr, Natural History Museum, Londen, United Kingdom

Peter C. Kjaergaard, Natural History Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

Johannes Vogel, Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin, Germany


View the full list of signatories here.

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