Despite the fact that more and more measures are being taken to protect nature, plant and animal species are rapidly disappearing from our continent, and ecosystems are working hard to simply continue to function. That is why the European Commission wants binding targets for restoring the health of nature.
The European Commission’s goal is to restore 80 per cent of all habitats in Europe that are in poor condition. To achieve this, the 27 EU Member States are expected to submit their own nature restoration plans in Brussels within two years of the new law coming into force. If they subsequently do not comply with those plans, they can be held responsible for it. The many measures that have already been taken, such as naturalization, reforestation, greener cities and the fight against pollution and waste, also need to be scaled up. 100 billion euros are available for the plans.
“We humans are dependent on nature. For the air we breathe, for the water we drink, for the food we eat, for life,” said Vice President Frans Timmermans. Timmermans is responsible for the climate. “Our economy is also running on nature. The climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis are threatening the foundations of our lives on Earth. We are making progress in combating the climate crisis, now we are adding two laws to tackle the looming ecocide.”
The committee itself is already proposing a number of objectives. For example, the Commission wants the decline in pollinators such as bees and birds to be stopped and for these populations to rise again from 2030. Until 2030, urban greenery must no longer be reduced, and from 2050 greenery must increase by 5%. And every European municipality, regardless of size, must place trees, plants, shrubs and flowers in and on buildings.
The plans have yet to be approved by the Member States and the European Parliament. Despite the critics’ argument that the war in Ukraine and the insecurity it entails means that it is not time for natural action, Timmermans is convinced of the plans. “When?” he asked.
Of course, it is great that measures are being taken at European level to protect nature, but here in Drenthe, too, one can help restore nature. For example, by the decision you make in your own garden. For example, Open Garden Weekend took place last weekend, where you could get all sorts of inspiration for what can be planted in the garden. Although an exotic palm tree can look very nice next to the lounge set, IVN Nature Education still comes with the warning: Leave the olive tree alone and choose native plants.
Logically, native species simply function better within local ecosystems than exotic ones. For example, researchers found 13 different insect species on American oaks in the Netherlands, and 450 on the original stem oak. The introduction of exotic substances also regularly causes unforeseen problems, such as the Japanese willowherb. This invasive exotic proliferates and displaces other plants. The municipalities now have major problems in combating this plant.
Green in a small area
IVN Tuiny Forest has put together packages to help the Dutch plant native species. These are ready-made packages of native trees, shrubs and seeds. You only need 6 square meters to plant such a miniature grove, and you contribute to the biodiversity and robustness of Dutch nature. It may seem like you can not do much in protecting nature on your own, but if you put all the gardens in Holland together, you have the largest nature park in Holland. So your own garden is a small start, but it can have big consequences.
In addition to having a positive effect on biodiversity, greener has other benefits: it fights heat stress, helps with water storage and counteracts drought. The soil can easily absorb rainwater through planting and can therefore also regulate itself better in dry periods.