The European commission will launch a sweeping effort to tackle the global biodiversity crisis, including a call for 3 billion trees to be planted in the EU by 2030 and a plan to better protect the continent’s last primeval forests.

The biodiversity strategy published today calls for 30% of Europe’s land and seas to become a protected area by 2030, up from 26% of land and 11% of seas today, with strict protections for ancient forests in particular.

The amount of agricultural land farmed organically must grow from 8% today to a quarter in a decade’s time.

Pesticide use should halve by 2030, by which point nearly a third of species must return to a favourable conservation status or be improving.

Frans Timmermans, the EC’s vice-president for the European Green Deal, explicitly tied the plan to avoiding future pandemics like the covid-19 crisis – a potential benefit of protecting habitats and limiting human interaction with certain species.

“The biodiversity strategy is essential for boosting our resilience and preventing the emergence and spread of future diseases such as zoonoses. Because by destroying nature at an unprecedented rate, and now with around 1 million species at risk of extinction within only decades, we literally threaten our own life, our health and our well-being,” he told a press conference.

Conservationists welcomed the plan as positive and strong, with Sabien Leemans at WWF Europe saying the ambition was unlike anything seen under the commission in the past five years. Some of the goals are even more ambitious than before, such as the number of trees being upgraded from talk last year of 2 billion, to 3 billion by 2030.

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Europe’s Green Deal

The European Green Deal aims to transform all the 27 countries from a high- to a low-carbon economy, without reducing prosperity and while improving people’s quality of life, through cleaner air and water, better health and a thriving natural world.

If that sounds ambitious, it is. The European commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, called it “Europe’s man on the moon moment”. Nothing similar has been attempted before, as the pattern of human progress since the industrial revolution has been one of relentless exploitation and despoilment of the natural world, filling the atmosphere with carbon and the seas with plastic.

Nearly every major aspect of the European economy will have to be overhauled, from energy generation to food consumption, from transport to manufacturing and construction. In part, this will build on two decades of work in a few of these sectors, such as directives mandating renewable energy and cutting air pollution.

The green deal will work through a framework of regulation and legislation setting clear overarching targets – a bloc-wide goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and a 50%-55% cut in emissions by 2030 (compared with 1990 levels) are supposed to be at the core – alongside incentives to encourage private sector investment, with action plans for key sectors and goals such as halting species loss, cutting waste and better use of natural resources.

All of this make us smile and hope for a better and greener future.

If you want to start making a difference today, do not hesitate to contact us and start a fruitful cooperation through planting trees all over the world!