Today in the early hours of the morning, representatives of the European Parliament, the European Council of Europe and the European Commission agreed on the final wording of the Regulation on the restoration of nature. When the Regulation is formally approved by the Parliament and the Council, the countries of the European Union will become the first in the world to legislate nature restoration. Europe thus confirms its role as a leader in solving one of the two major crises facing humanity – the catastrophic loss of natural diversity. The regulation on the restoration of nature is supposed to establish specific binding goals and a sequence of steps, fulfilling the obligations of the European Union in the area of biodiversity protection, which is also decreasing alarmingly in Europe. There was surprisingly strong opposition to the European Commission’s original proposal, and for a long time there was a threat that the European Parliament would reject the law altogether. In the end, the law was passed by a narrow majority, also thanks to several Czech MEPs who prioritized personal responsibility over party discipline. During the deliberations in the Council, the role of the Czech state, specifically the Ministry of the Environment, was also positive, whose approach was rational and aimed at the balanced functioning of the new legislation.
In a process called trialogue, all three main European institutions have now agreed on the final wording of the proposal. The negotiated compromise must be approved in the final vote by both the European Parliament and the Council. These votes should be formal steps only. The negotiated wording represents progress compared to the parliamentary proposal, but at the cost of significant concessions to opponents of the regulation.
Non-governmental organizations highly appreciate that the article on the restoration of ecosystems on agricultural land, which was previously completely deleted by the parliament, was returned to the law. Equally important is the agreement that member states will have the obligation to restore important European ecosystems not only in the areas of the Natura 2000 system, but also in the open countryside. On the other hand, the European institutions inserted numerous exceptions into the law, allowing member states to limit the extent of nature restoration or even temporarily suspend it.
“We hope that the regulation will now be approved and its implementation will begin immediately. European nature and climate urgently need it,” says Vlastimil Karlík from the Arnika association.
“The ball is now moving from the European court to the Czech one,” says Zdeněk Vermouzek, director of the Czech Ornithological Society. “It is now up to the Minister of the Environment Petar Hladík to start the preparation of the National Nature Restoration Plan. It is up to us how, where and when we start to restore our nature.”
Jan Freidinger from Greenpeace adds: “The nature restoration law was and still is under enormous pressure from lobbyists, especially from agribusiness. It is therefore crucial that Member States prepare their National Recovery Plans in an open, transparent and inclusive process, which the law itself requires. The MoE should therefore publish the draft of this process as soon as possible and start consultations with all affected participants, including the scientific community and non-governmental organizations.”
Martin Rexa, coordinator of the agricultural campaign RAINBOW Movement, says: “It is good that measures to restore agricultural ecosystems were returned to the law in the trialogues. Due to their importance in the European landscape, they are essential from the point of view of the adaptation of the landscape and agriculture to climate change and the restoration of biodiversity. But now it will be up to Minister Hladík to ensure that the necessary restoration does not remain only on paper.”
Last year, the Czech Ornithological Society and WWF-CEE organized a conference at the National Museum in Prague on the topic of the Nature Restoration Regulation. Its conclusions and full record are freely available.
Summary information about the Nature Restoration Regulation on the website of the Czech Ornithological Society.
BirdLife Europe press release on the progress and outcome of the discussion.
Answers to the most frequent questions related to the restoration of nature.
The text is a joint opinion of Arnica, Belec, the Czech Ornithological Society, Greenpeace CR, Hnúti Duha and WWF.