5 steps to stop nature collapse

15,364 scientists from 184 countries made a warning cry to humanity this week that the Earth’s biosphere is on the brink of collapse. But they say all is not lost if political leaders take urgent steps to stave off disaster.

Among the 13 recommendations, five call for specific action to protect nature:

(1) Increase financing for nature reserves for a significant proportion of the world’s terrestrial, marine, freshwater, and aerial habitats.

(2) Stop the destruction of forests, grasslands and other native habitats to conserve ecosystem services.

(3) Large-scale restoration of native plant communities, particularly forest landscapes.

(4) Rewilding regions with native species, especially apex predators, to restore ecological processes and dynamics.

(5) Restore large-scale endemic plants, in particular forests, tackle poaching, and stop the trafficking of threatened species.

And the European Parliament today echoed these recommendations by calling for an increase in financing for nature reserves. The Parliament text also called for more action to tackle the impact of unsustainable agriculture – just weeks before the Commission’s forthcoming vision on the future of EU farm policy is set to be published on the 29 November.

Leonardo Mazza, Senior Policy Officer for Biodiversity and Ecosystems at the European Environmental Bureau, said:

With so many eminent scientists calling for boosting nature reserves, protecting forests, and restoring native plants, it is great to see the European Parliament is on the same page. But if MEPs are serious about stopping environmental degradation they must factor nature in when they take decisions across the board, for example when the time comes to vote on the EU’s future farm policy and the next EU budget.”

The MEPs were voting on a text that follows on from the publication of a new EU Action Plan to strengthen nature rules following a Commission decision in December 2016 not to rewrite or weaken the EU’s flagship nature laws – the Birds and Habitats Directives – after two years of uncertainty over their future.

In 2015, over half a million citizens called for the laws to be upheld and implemented better.

Sabien Leemans, Senior Biodiversity Policy Officer at WWF said:

“We are pleased to see that the Parliament is supporting the EU action plan to step up the implementation of the EU nature laws. And most importantly, MEPs are highlighting that the fight against nature loss will require more action and political will.”

This week’s message from scientists is an update of a previous warning made by the Union of Concerned Scientists in 1992. The scientists say that most of the problems identified in the warning 25 years ago have worsened.

The text adopted by MEPs today also called for giving citizens more power to take the Commission to task on environmental decisions.