Europe’s Major Plan To Restore Nature Gets Momentum

In a world facing increasing threats from droughts and wildfires, botanists from the University of California, Riverside (UCR) argue that now is the time to identify the conditions that lead to plant extinction. Their findings, published in the Oxford Academic journal Conservation Physiology, propose a new strategy for plant conservation. By understanding the limits beyond which a plant's vital functions cease, scientists can develop more effective conservation plans.

In a major decision for Europe’s biodiversity, climate ambition and climate mitigation, the European Council has proposed a law to restore nature and also to half the use of chemical pesticides by 2030.

Announcing this, Council Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans said “we need to repair the 80% of our nature that’s in bad shape, and bring nature back to our cities, towns, forests, agricultural land, seas, lakes, and rivers the nature that our citizens want and need.”


Pointing out that this was not only about physical health, but also about mental health, he said “this is something that will give us more confidence in ourselves and our ability to shape our natural environment in a sustainable way.”

Timmermans mentioned that restoration did not just mean more protected areas but it goes hand-in-hand with economic activity, and even strengthens it. “Just think about the bees, butterflies, and other pollinators that our crops need to grow. On pesticides, we are also taking a massive step forward. By 2030, half of chemical pesticides should be replaced with alternatives, with practices like crop rotation, and with technologies like precision farming. We also propose to prohibit all pesticide use in sensitive areas like schools, hospitals, parks, and playgrounds,” he said.

“The longer we wait, the more expensive and difficult this will all be. For everyone involved, and especially those who depend most directly on nature: farmers, foresters, and fishers,” he stated..

On the target of 2030 for reducing chemical pesticides, he said that though urgency is big, nature restoration and replacing chemical pesticides takes time and that is why the measures are for 2030, and for nature restoration even 2040 and 2050.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Stella Kyriakides claimed that they are delivering on one of the most long awaited and important objectives of the Farm to Fork strategy, new rules to reduce the use and risk of pesticide. Stating that the proposal was part of the citizens’ expectations, she said that it has been very clear in the Conference on the Future of Europe, in European Citizens Initiatives and in Eurobarometer surveys, where close to 40% consider pesticides a major issue with regards to food safety.

“If the pandemic has shown us one thing, it is that we cannot separate human health from the health of our environment. The outbreak of Monkeypox is yet another stark example of how closely interlinked we are with our nature. The on-going Russian brutal and barbaric invasion of Ukraine creates deep concerns about global food security. These concerns are valid. But they don’t make action on pesticides any less urgent. That is why today we announce that we will launch a comprehensive analysis on the drivers of food security in all their dimensions,” she said.


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