The EU Nature Restoration Law has passed its final hurdle after getting the backing of EU environment ministers at a meeting held on Monday in Luxembourg.

Ireland is now the subject of legally-binding nature restoration targets out to 2050 and will have two years to draft a national restoration plan.

Lands designated as Natura 2000 sites are to be the priority of restoration efforts up to 2030.

Measures will need to be put in place across 30% of habitats deemed to be in poor condition by 2030, rising to 60% by 2040 and 90% by 2050.

Future of the law

The future of the law had been uncertain after a vote on it was pulled from the agenda of a March meeting after some member states indicated their intention to vote against it.

However, the law managed to reach the qualified majority it needed to pass at Monday’s vote, despite the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Hungry, Poland and Italy voting against the law.

The country which holds the presidency of the council – Belgium – abstained.

Minister Ryan reaction

The vote was welcomed by Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan, who stated that action is already underway on many farms to boost biodiversity and restore nature.

“It’s already happening. Tens of thousands of farmers across the country are already taking part in schemes, projects and programmes to restore nature,” the minister commented.

“I say it over and over again. Farmers are the frontline heroes in climate action. We want to work collaboratively, to restore nature and to ensure that farmers and rural communities are well rewarded and can thrive.”

National plan

Minister of State for Nature Malcolm Noonan stated that the vote puts the focus on the country’s national restoration plan which will lay out how the targets are to be met.

A “comprehensive assessment of funding needs” is also to be undertaken when developing the plan and farming sector stakeholders will be encouraged to feed into the plan.

“It is my intention to work with the Minister for Finance to ensure that the Government’s €3.15bn Climate and Nature Fund, which was announced as part of Budget 2024, will underpin the implementation of nature restoration measures across the country,” he said.

“We need to turn the tide on biodiversity loss and take the first steps towards restoring nature, and we need to do it together. That’s what this Government is committed to delivering on.”