The European Union’s Nature Restoration Law could be a “gamechanger” for agriculture and environmental protection in Ireland, according to an MEP.

However, Ireland South representative Grace O’Sullivan has said the legislation will need “strong follow through”.

“Ireland is a laggard in terms of protection of nature and has one of the highest levels of pesticide and fertiliser use in the EU27,” the Green Party MEP claimed.

“The Nature Restoration Law proposed by the European Commission this week is intended to avoid ecosystem collapse and biodiversity loss as a result of human activity.

“It’s time we learn to live with nature again and not in conflict with it. Farmers know that better than anyone,” O’Sullivan stated.

Image Source: Grace O’Sullivan

The Green Party MEP stated that 80% of European habitats are in poor condition and in dire need of restoration measure such as rewilding, reforestation and protection from encroaching human life.

The commission aims to cover at least 20% of the EU’s land and sea areas with nature restoration measures by 2030; and repair the 80% of EU habitats, that are in poor condition, by 2050.

Around €100 billion will be available for biodiversity spending, including restoration, under the current multi-annual financial framework, according to the European Commission.

It is also proposing a legally-binding 50% reduction in chemical pesticide use, with compensation for this measure to come through the next Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Speaking from Brussels, MEP for Ireland South, Grace O’Sullivan, said:

“Intensive land and chemical use has severely affected the ability of the planet to support human life within sustainable limits.

“As always, I will work with my colleagues in the European Parliament to strengthen this legislation and to ensure member states do not backtrack on their commitments to tackling climate change and biodiversity loss,” she said.

“For Ireland, one of the key areas will be the protection and restoration of wetlands and peatlands,” O’Sullivan continued.

“These areas of natural beauty serve us the same way the Amazon does for South America – absorbing and storing carbon while acting as a home for countless species – yet 84% of peatlands are of unfavourable status.

“Conservation of our oceans and seagrass forests will also be key as we have seen them warming at an alarming rate recently,” the Ireland South MEP concluded.