Press release

European Parliament approves vital Nature Restoration Law

27th February 2024
Grace O'Sullivan and Ciaran Cuffe

Green MEPs Grace O’Sullivan and Ciarán Cuffe have welcomed final approval for the Nature Restoration Law (NRL) as agreed between the EU institutions, including the Member States, MEPs and the European Commission. MEPs voted today to approve the final law by a majority of 329 votes in favour, 275 votes against, with 24 abstentions. The NRL aims to restore the majority of Europe’s degraded ecosystems by 2050. It will help bring back nature, protect people from extreme weather events, and secure food production in Europe. 

Under the new law, each Member State will have to draft a national restoration plan. Ireland has already committed to ensuring deep involvement of all stakeholders, in particular farmers and fishers, in the design of its plan. This will ensure that restoration measures, which will be voluntary for landowners, have local buy in and are financially rewarded. Ireland’s plan will set out, for example, how degraded peatlands will be rewetted, which will be on a voluntary basis. The Government’s €3.15 billion Climate and Nature Fund could provide the large, standalone, long-term funding needed to achieve restoration goals.

MEP for Ireland South Grace O’Sullivan said:

“The passage of the NRL gives us a fighting chance to reverse hundreds of years of degradation and damage that have been inflicted on our ecosystems. Nature is the very foundation of our economy and our society, and we must protect it and restore it. 80% of Europe’s natural habitats are in poor shape, and Ireland ranks as one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world. What’s good for nature is good for climate and biodiversity, for farming and food security, for health and wellbeing, for water quality and flood protection, for tourism and recreation - the benefits are scarcely believable. While the NRL is not perfect, I welcome this landmark decision, and urge environmentalists and nature-lovers everywhere to keep up the pressure locally, nationally, and internationally to build on this milestone law.”

Green MEP for Dublin Ciarán Cuffe said:

“Today marks the beginning of Europe’s journey to bring back nature and build more resilient economies, increase food security, and protect livelihoods in the decades ahead. Both rural and urban areas will see the benefits of restoring nature, including Dublin where this law will promote more green spaces like ‘pocket parks’. We are greatly indebted to so many people for today’s result: negotiators, scientists, businesses, NGOs, and citizens among them. Together, we fought off an unprecedented right-wing attack against this legislation, which was included on the EPP’s ‘kill-list’ of green proposals. The attention now turns to the EU governments, who will have two years to decide how it will achieve the NRL targets. In Ireland,  the Government’s  €3.15 billion Climate and Nature Fund will deliver vital investment to ensure we can meet our restoration goals.”

Under the newly approved law, every EU country must have restoration measures in place by 2030, covering at least 20% of EU land and sea areas. While measures to restore drained peatlands are included, rewetting will remain voluntary for farmers and private landowners and anyone who wants to rewet their land will be compensated for doing so. For towns and cities meanwhile, the Nature Restoration Law commits to increasing urban green spaces like parks. In this year’s budget, the Irish Green Party secured an historic €3bn fund earmarked for nature restoration, in anticipation of the binding Nature Restoration Law. 

Biodiversity action is supported by the Irish government and the Irish people represented by the Citizens’ Assembly. Last April, the Assembly called for the Government to play a leading role in the adoption and implementation of the EU Nature Restoration Law. 

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