Due to the deteriorating state of ecosystems, the European Union is placing great emphasis on protecting nature and preventing further effects of climate change. One of the proposed initiatives is the EU Biodiversity Strategy. Among other things, the project plans to. Restoring the natural state of rivers across Europe – by 2030. Renovation of 25 thousand is planned. km of rivers. Member states can count on technical and financial support in efforts to achieve this. The EU’s Biodiversity Strategy and the actions taken in its regard are to find legal regulation under the Nature Restoration Law regulation.
What is the current state of rivers in Europe?
Europe’s rivers currently have a significant number of disused hydrotechnical facilities, including dams and other artificial barriers. As a result, the river courses are divided into many sections. At about 40 percent. European rivers and lakes are subject to hydromorphic pressures associated with urbanization, agriculture or recreation. 2000 Assumptions. included in the Water Framework Directive have not been met – the document assumes bringing water status to good by 2015. We wrote more about this topic in the article: “How bad is bad water? About the devil being in the details“. In contrast, the EU Biodiversity Strategy emphasizes, following the provisions of the WFD, that all surface and groundwater should reach good status by 2027.
EU biodiversity strategy – assumptions until 2030.
The EU’s 2030 Biodiversity Strategy is titledBringing nature back into our lives. The main goal of the initiative is to take action related to the protection and restoration of natural resources, both for economic and environmental reasons, as well as to ensure food security in the EU and mitigate climate change. The European Commission has proposed a number of initiatives related to, among other things. with the creation of a coherent network of protected areas, increasing the area of forests and urban green spaces, restoring marine and freshwater ecosystems, agricultural ecosystems and soil, increasing the number of pollinating insects (butterflies, bees), as well as reducing pollution and limiting global warming to 1.5°C. Negotiations are underway to regulate activities leading to the fulfillment of these goals under the Nature Restoration Law.
Renaturalization of rivers as part of biodiversity strategy
The EU’s Biodiversity Strategy 2030 calls for, among other things, the protection of freshwater ecosystems, with which the renaturalization of rivers, that is, returning them to free flow, is related. Based on an assessment of the level that can be achieved by 2030, the Commission has set a target: 25,000 kilometers of rivers are to be renaturalized during this time. Ensuring the free flow of rivers will enable not only the restoration of floodplains, but also the free migration of fish and the flow of water, and thus have a positive impact on its quality. The European Commission is to provide all member states with the necessary technical support to achieve these goals. In 2022, the decommissioned More than 330 unused dams, including 100 in Spain. Good results of restoring rivers to their natural state can also be seen in Estonia.
Law on restoration of natural resources vs. EU biodiversity strategy
Work is currently underway on a draft regulation of the European Parliament on therestoration of natural resources(Nature Restoration Law). A related proposal was presented by the European Commission as early as June 2022. – The EU Biodiversity Strategy is closely linked to this law, as its goals are to be regulated through a regulation.
The demands put forth by the European Commission are measures aimed not only at restoring rivers to their natural state, but also at protecting and restoring habitats, restoring biodiversity to forest and marine ecosystems, and the role of urban and agricultural areas is not overlooked. The goals set are ambitious and not always in line with the priorities of farmers or fishermen. Further negotiations are needed to establish a balance between biodiversity conservation and socioeconomic development. The regulation is expected to be completed next year.