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28 January 2020

The call of the wild

European wildlife is roaring for attention: a policy brief for the EU Biodiversity Strategy post-2020

by Valentina Delconte

To get it clear from scratch: Europe will not stand as an untainted biodiversity oasis while climate change hits the rest of the world. So we are, undoubtedly, in a critical need to tackle the European unprecedented environmental emergencies. Among them, bringing back nature across the continent and steering landscape diversity.

Thus, a clear strategy is needed and so has been the logical understanding of five European organisations — namely, the WWF European Policy OfficeBirdLife Europe & Central Asia, the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), Rewilding Europe and the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research — who coalesced to release a policy brief last week. The intention: to call on the European Commission (EC) to prioritise nature recovery in the European Union (EU) Biodiversity Strategy post-2020 and to align its target with the global goal of “preventing, halting and reversing the degradation of ecosystems worldwide” of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.

Truth is, there has never been more urge to act than now. The unsustainable use of land and resources, in combination with the substantial effects of climatic changes, is threatening the survival of at least 1 million species, fuelling the decline of biodiversity worldwide. And while that happens, Europe keeps on falling short on meeting the EU Biodiversity Strategy adopted in 2011, which aimed at restoring at least 15% of degraded ecosystems by 2020. Why? Due to prohibitive costs and the lack of clear strategic plans.

So, nothing to do? The obvious answer is “no.” Firstly, the call is directed towards decision-makers to finding time and cost-effective solutions to re-establish the functioning of natural ecosystems in order to ensure the adaptation and mitigation to climatic changes.

Adopt one, solve two

To promote the rewilding of European ecosystems is a complementary and synergistic solution to address the biodiversity and climate crisis simultaneously, while providing opportunities for a sustainable development. Acknowledging this dual potential, the policy brief targets the importance on setting the restoration of functioning ecosystems on top of the upcoming post-2020 Biodiversity Strategy agenda.

Rewilding landscape, wetlands and floodplains across Europe, and establishing a well-connected network will improve the conservation status and the connectivity of the Natura 2000 network and help achieve the objectives of the EU’s Birds and Habitat Directives and Water Framework Directive (WFD). Not wild results enough? Restored natural ecosystems also provide effective measures for climate change actions, such as carbon sequestration and extreme weather events mitigation.

The Biodiversity Strategy post-2020 should therefore prioritize legally binding targets — based on the rewilding principles — for the restoration of degraded habitats. Moreover, it must ensure enough financing for climate actions that deliver active restoration of natural land- and seascapes.

Nature for nature and people

When nature is sustainably managed to tackle socio-environmental challenges it provides key solutions that are robust, flexible, cost-efficient, inclusive and long-term oriented to restore the functionality of natural ecosystems and boost up their resilience. As highlighted in the policy brief, nature-based solutions are multiple and available measures benefitting nature and people.

Care for an example? Healthy land and water ecosystems can draw down carbon from the atmosphere, protect from flooding and coastal erosion, stabilise crops, minimise the threat of wildfire, secure drinking water supplies, ensure human health and wellbeing, and drive a sustainable economic growth. Yes, all of that in only one example.

Care for more examples? Swim through our photo gallery.

Care for more? For over 25 years, CEEweb for Biodiversity has been actively promoting the conservation and restoration of natural ecosystems within the Natura 2000 network and enhancing the connectivity among them. As an active organization in the fields of nature conservation and sustainable development, CEEweb encourages the prioritization of ecosystems restoration within the EU Biodiversity Strategy post-2020 since they provide those very much needed solutions in times of deep changes for the EU and the world.