The European Commission proposed legally binding targets on Wednesday to halve the use of chemical pesticides and restore nature to better protect public health and recover declining wildlife populations.
“We are proposing a law that would require all (European Union) member states to restore nature,” Frans Timmermans, the European Commission’s executive vice-president, said during a news conference.
“We need to repair the 80 percent of our nature that’s in bad shape and bring back to our cities, towns, forests, agricultural lands, seas, lakes and rivers the nature that our citizens want and need,” Timmermans said.
Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said that farmers’ use of chemical pesticides would be cut by 50 percent by the end of 2030 under the proposals, and that the chemicals would be banned altogether in sensitive places such as public parks and protected areas.
“We will be supporting farmers financially every step of the way for the next five years,” said Kyriakides. “We will also be accompanying the transition by increasing the range of biological and low-risk alternatives on the market.”
The proposed law lays down binding goals to increase bird populations on farmlands, reverse the decline of bees, and restore 25,000 km of rivers by 2030. To achieve these goals, countries will need to develop their own plans.
The degradation of natural habitats is caused by intensive agriculture, forestry, and urbanization. Most of Europe’s protected habitats and animals have a negative conservation status, and bee and butterfly populations are declining.