The European Commission has passed a new ‘Green Deal’, which will see the restoration of nature by 2050 become a top priority.
Improving the health of agricultural land, seas, forests and ecosystems is at the heart of the plans, with a target set to halve the use and risk of chemical pesticides by 2030.
The changes to regulations on chemical pesticides is being made to cut Europe’s environmental footprint when it comes to the food sector – as well as to protect the health of consumers and citizens.
Biodiversity loss is being exacerbated by declining soil health, which the EU has linked with the use of certain pesticides.
Repairing 80% of European habitats by the half century is the aim of the plans, which will see every member state adopt measures across natural land to protect wildlife.
The Commission has stated that the plans have been made to ‘live and produce’ together with nature – bringing biodiversity back into our lives, rather than keeping it separate; therefore, urban areas have also been included.
It estimates restoration will also help create a larger carbon sink and absorb carbon emissions – which will in turn make natural disasters less frequent.
Close to €100 billion (£85.8bn) is being made available for biodiversity spending by the EU.
The removal of river barriers to let 25,000km of rivers run free by 2030, protecting marine species such as dolphins and sharks, stopping the loss of pollinator populations and ensuring there is a minimum of 10% tree canopy cover in every European city and town are some of the key points laid out in the Green Deal.
Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, said: “We humans depend on nature. For the air we breathe, for the water we drink, for the food we eat – for life.
“Our economy also runs on nature. The climate and biodiversity crises are threatening the very foundation of our life on Earth.
“We have been making progress on tackling the climate crisis and today we add two laws that represent a massive step forward in tackling the looming ecocide. When we restore nature, we allow it to continue providing clean air, water and food and we enable it to shield us from the worst of the climate crisis.
“Reducing pesticide use likewise helps nature recover and protects the humans who work with these chemicals.”