Europe’s nature restoration laws won’t drive farmers off their land, according to director for biodiversity at the European Commission Humberto Delgado Rosa.

Rosa said that while targets to restore 70% of Ireland’s drained farmed peatlands by 2050 may lead to some curtailment in production or a change in farm management, farmers won’t be put out of business.

The Commission representative was speaking at an Oireachtas agriculture committee meeting on Wednesday where TD and senator members questioned him on the impact the EU restoration law will have.

Responding to Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy on claims that the targets will impact family farms, Rosa said: “We are not proposing whatsoever to move people from anywhere or to not allow families to live.

"On the contrary, the flexibility provided allows [Ireland] to maintain every single family [farm] need in their own kind of production.”


While acknowledging that the Commission cannot fully assess how the nature restoration will affect individual farms, he said farmers whose lands have been restored will have “many avenues to [avail of] other sources of income”, such as carbon farming.

Farmers won't be driven from land restored to nature, said a European Commission representative. \ Donal O' Leary

For the 70% drained peatland nature restoration target for 2050, 35% must involve rewetting of the lands. However, Rosa highlighted that there will be “flexibilities” awarded to member states to use non-farming peatlands for this, where possible.

He said that where traditional extensive beef and sheep farms are concerned, the changes required for nature restoration may not be that major.

“It could be any measure that could extensify the grassland use. So, if you have less animals per hectare, if you raise the water level without affecting the grassland, if you put less inputs, whatever would bring benefits for biodiversity or climate, would amount to restoration,” he said.


The European Commission director for biodiversity also insisted that nature restoration will benefit farmers.

He said that for every €1 invested in restoration measures, an average of €8 will be delivered back in economic impact.

For example, he said that reversing the decline in pollinator insect species will “boost crop production” and that biodiverse woodland will make landscapes more resilient to climate change.

Overall, Rosa said the EU is set to invest some €100m in restoration and biodiversity spending before 2027, at approximately €14m per annum.

On top of this, he said there is €10bn to be spent from the EU just transition fund for a ‘green transition’ and that a further €10.4bn will be spent by member states from domestic resources.

However, ultimately, the director was unable to tell TDs and senators the exact economic impact any move to curtail or reduce production by farmers on drained peatlands will have.

Read more

Rewetting will not stop farming - TDs

Farmers can grow moss and graze buffalo on rewet land – EU

EU law could see 70% of drained, farmed peats rewet by 2050