The commission is promising to outline legally binding targets on member states.
The European Commission has committed to protecting 30% of the EU’s land and oceans by 2030 as part of the European Green Deal, in a plan tentatively welcomed by environment groups who warned far-reaching ambitions must not only exist “on paper”.
The 10-year plan, published on Wednesday, includes commitments to reduce the use of chemical pesticides by 50%, plant 3bn trees by 2030 and reverse the decline in pollinators. Within the 30% protected areas, a third of land and sea will be under “strict protection”, meaning there should be no human intervention besides minimal management to keep the area in good condition for wildlife.
Strictly protected areas will include carbon-rich habitats such as primary and old-growth forests, peatlands, wetlands and grasslands. Currently only 3% of land and 1% of marine areas are under strict protection.
The commission aims to raise at least €20bn (£18bn) per year to fund the the plan. The money will come from private and public funding at EU and national level. A significant proportion of the EU’s climate budget will also be invested in biodiversity, the report said.
Sabien Leemans, senior policy officer for biodiversity at WWF, said this figure was “probably at the bottom of the scale, but it’s the first time they’ve mentioned a concrete figure, so that’s already good”.
The commission is promising to outline in 2021 legally binding targets on EU member states to restore nature reserves, such as meadows, wetlands, peatlands, bogs, marshes, grasslands and forests. Without “a dedicated binding framework in support of the biodiversity strategy” there is a “high risk … that biodiversity loss would continue”, Virginijus Sinkevičius, the EU commissioner for environment and oceans, told journalists.