Biodiversity week 2020: exciting developments in protecting and restoring European nature
During Biodiversity Week (16-22 May), the European Commission launched the 2030 Biodiversity Strategy as part of the Green Deal on May 20. Eurosite welcomes the ambitious Strategy, with the aim of setting binding EU restoration targets by 2021 as the greatest step forward in the protection of EU nature – especially compared to the voluntary targets of the Biodiversity Strategy to 2020. As part of the European Habitats Forum (EHF), Eurosite, shoulder to shoulder with other European NGOs, has been dedicatedly raising awareness on the voluntary issue, as well as on the lack of political will in some EU member states over the past years.
During the latest EHF meeting with DG Environment on May 8, emphasis was also placed on the inclusion of nature in a future Covid-19 restoration package. Additionally, the Commission highlighted the importance of Nature-Based Solutions in implementing the new Biodiversity Strategy.
Monitoring will play an increased role in reaching the 2030 targets, and DG Environment and DG Agriculture will work closer together under the Green Deal. The 2030 Biodiversity Strategy also mentions a new category of ‘strictly protected areas’, a concept that has not yet been clearly defined. Guidelines regarding the definition of wilderness are already developed and these can help create a definition of strict protected areas where non-intervention would be suitable. Additionally, nature should be protected everywhere, and the various definitions of protection allows for the ecological requirements of certain species who require non-intervention to be considered. Overall, the main commitments of the 2030 Biodiversity Strategy include:
- to protect at least 30% of EU land and seas to decline the halt of biodiversity;
- creating binding restoration targets for degraded habitats;
- ensuring that 25% of EU agricultural land is organically farmed by 2030.
In the words of EU Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius:
“Biodiversity is far more than a purely environmental protection issue, it is of utmost relevance for each of us. Nature isn’t a ‘nice to have’– it’s essential. We need it for the air we breathe and the food we eat, and our economies and our health depend on it.”
With the new Strategy, the EU wants to lead by example – an ambitious and admirable objective. Eurosite looks forward to support the European Commission in implementing the new Biodiversity Strategy in the coming years to protect and restore Europe’s nature. With that in mind, Eurosite joined the Global Coalition for Biodiversity last week. Ahead of the crucial 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Kunming (China), the European Commission asks all national parks, aquariums, botanic gardens, zoos, science and natural history museums to join forces and increase public awareness regarding the nature crisis. The Global Coalition for Biodiversity will focus its attention on coordinated actions mitigating biodiversity loss.
That the Eurosite network is a valued partner for the European Commission was underlined on 24 May, the European Day of Parks, which was dedicated to Eurosite, EUROPARC, and all managers, educators and rangers in protected areas across Europe.