New law to restore nature calls for wilder places, greener cities, chemical-free land

NEW EU laws to restore nature would see wilder places, greener cities and chemical-free land in all EU countries.

he proposed that the Nature Restoration Act would cut pesticide use in half, protect pollinators, preserve trees, and restore struggling habitats on land and sea.

It would set legally binding targets, oblige each country to draw up a national restoration plan and require annual reports to Brussels on its implementation.

Every city, town and suburb should preserve existing urban green spaces and strive to expand them, ensuring a minimum of 10% tree cover.

Pesticides would be banned in all public places, including parks, schools, playgrounds and sports fields, and their use on crops would be a “last resort” when no environmentally friendly alternative is available. was available.

River barriers would be reduced so that at least 25,000 km of rivers would flow freely, regeneration would be encouraged, and environmentally friendly farming, fishing and forestry practices would be needed.

The law aims to restore the health of the 80% of European habitats in poor condition.

It is an attempt to halt the dramatic decline of nature and vital pollinators, and boost ecosystems that help fight climate change such as peatlands, forests and healthy carbon-absorbing seas. , and floodplains that can absorb water.

It goes further than the current Habitats Directive as it applies to all land and sea areas, not just those with special designations.

The law must be approved by the European Parliament and member state governments, but environmental groups in Ireland have warmly welcomed it.

Some 85% of Irish habitats are classified as being in an unfavorable condition, a fifth of Irish bird species are in long-term decline and a third of the country’s bee species are threatened with extinction.

The Irish Environmental Pillar, a coalition of environmental groups, said the law was an unprecedented chance to tackle the climate and biodiversity crises simultaneously.

“Through the Nature Restoration Act, we have the tools we need to rise to the challenge and rebuild our failing ecosystems,” spokesman Fintan Kelly said.

“This is an opportunity we literally cannot afford to miss.”

Oonagh Duggan of Birdwatch Ireland said a national nature restoration fund should be set up to fund the implementation of the law.

“Restoring habitats and ecosystems will not only be essential to reversing wildlife decimation, water quality and climate change, investing in nature makes financial sense,” she said. .

Earlier this month, Minister Malcolm Noonan, responsible for parks and wildlife, said he expected the targets to be very ambitious and he warned that Ireland was not ready to Try the challenge.

“These will be binding targets for member states. This is going to require a major nature restoration program over the next decade,” he said.

“We have to be equipped for that. As it stands, we are not.

Its parent department, the Department of Housing, said discussions should take place with all departments on the law.

“This is an inter-governmental issue, so dialogue will be needed within government to agree relevant roles and responsibilities in relation to the Nature Restoration Act and the preparation of a National Restoration Plan” , did he declare.