EU presents package to restore nature and reduce the use of pesticides

14 July 2022

Crops Horticulture Livestock Environment Science and Innovation Farm Business
EU presents package to restore nature and reduce the use of pesticides

In late June 2022 the European Commission presented its long-awaited nature package that includes provisions for nature restoration and the reduction of the use of pesticides. This first of its kind nature restoration law proposes legally binding targets for different types of ecosystems, and to ensure the reduction in the use of plant protection products. 

By Jenny Brunton, Senior European Policy Advisor

The European Commission proposed a new Regulation on the Sustainable Use of Plant Protection Products to reduce the use and risk of chemical pesticides by 50% and the use of more hazardous pesticides (plant protection products containing one or more active substances approved as candidates for substitution) by 50% by 2030. The proposal transforms the existing Directive into a Regulation which will be directly applicable in all Member States. The Commission stated that “the current rules of the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive have proven to be too weak and have been unevenly implemented. Also, insufficient progress has been made in the use of Integrated Pest Management as well as other alternative approaches.”

The proposal includes:

  • Legally binding targets reducing the use and risk of chemical pesticides by 50% by the year 2030.
  • A ban on all pesticide use in sensitive areas, including all urban green areas used by the general public.
  • Environmentally friendly pest control ensuring all farmers practice Integrated Pest Management in which chemical pesticides are used only as a last resort.
  • Promoting low-risk alternatives with national targets to increase nonchemical methods of pest control and sales of non-chemical plant protection products.
  • Helping farmers access required advice and guidance for more sustainable farming with less chemical pesticides.
  • Enabling the use of new technologies such as precision farming, which contributes to further reducing the use of chemical pesticides.
  • Common Agricultural Policy funding for investments and advice in sustainable practices. Accelerating approvals of biological alternatives for farmers and other pesticide users.
  • Global solidarity by supporting sustainable agriculture in countries exporting food to the EU and introducing a new, more environmental approach on maximum residues level.

 

The Commission also published its proposal for a Nature Restoration Law. The aim of the proposal is to provide legally binding EU nature restoration targets to restore degraded ecosystems, in particular those that contribute most to the capture and storage of carbon as well as to the prevention and reduction of the impact of natural disasters. The Nature Restoration Law would require effective restoration measures to be in place on 20% of the EU’s land and sea areas by 2030 and that by 2050, restoration measures address all ecosystems in need of restoration. The measure also contains targets for specific ecosystems, pollinators, birds, urban ecosystems etc. Member States will be required to develop National Restoration Plans taking account of national circumstances.

The proposed binding targets of the Nature Restoration Law aim to:

  • Reverse the decline of pollinator populations by 2030 and increasing their populations from there on,
  • No net loss of green urban spaces by 2030, a 5% increase by 2050, a minimum of 10% tree canopy cover in every European city, town, and suburb, and net gain of green space that is integrated to buildings and infrastructure,
  • In agricultural ecosystems, overall increase of biodiversity, and a positive trend for grassland butterflies, farmland birds, organic carbon in cropland mineral soils and high-diversity landscape features on agricultural land,
  • Restoration and rewetting of drained peatlands under agricultural use and in peat extraction sites.
  • In forest ecosystems, overall increase of biodiversity and a positive trend for forest connectivity, deadwood, share of uneven-aged forests, forest birds and stock of organic carbon,
  • Restoring marine habitats such as seagrasses or sediment bottoms, and restoring the habitats of iconic marine species such as dolphins and porpoises, sharks and seabirds,
  • Removing river barriers so that at least 25,000 km of rivers are turned into free-flowing rivers by 2030.

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