Comments on the Council decision to adopt the EU’s Nature Restoration Law

Photo: Skogsindustrierna

EU environment ministers, under the Belgian presidency of the Council of Ministers, have adopted the EU’s Nature Restoration Law by a narrow margin and with uncertainty surrounding Austria’s handling of the issue. The Swedish Forest Industries Federation (SFIF) supports the overall objective of restoring nature but believes that the agreement should have been more balanced.

“The law was adopted after a two-year legislative process characterised by sharp criticism from many sides and chaotic processes in the EU Parliament and the Council of Ministers. The basic purpose of the regulation and its measures to restore nature are good. These aims are in line with SFIF’s Sustainability Roadmap to make forests more resilient and biodiverse. However, the approach taken in the legislation contains a number of shortcomings, reflected in criticism of the legislation from many countries,” says Viveka Beckeman, director general of the Swedish Forest Industries Federation.

A key SFIF criticism is that the legislation does not take sufficient account of differences between member states. Especially given that member states interpret the Habitats Directive differently and diverge in terms of historical land use and systems for preserving and promoting biodiversity. 

“From SFIF’s perspective, we see a risk of major socio-economic consequences due to restrictions of land use that impact forestry in particular. The EU Parliament and many member states have criticised the lack of consideration of other societal goals, such as access to renewable raw materials, which result in the proposals making it harder to achieve climate goals,” says Beckeman.

Implementation in member states could turn out to be challenging.

“When implementing it will be essential that member states align their assessments of status of habitat types and the restoration needs. Member states would also benefit from a common understanding of how to select effective restoration measures in comparison to other policy objectives. This would enable nature restoration and the acceleration of the climate transition, while at the same time reducing negative effects on society,” Beckeman.  adds.