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EU Nature Restoration Law Proposal Leads to Urban Sprawl

In its Biodiversity Strategy, the EU (with its member states) is committed to halt the loss of biodiversity and reverse the negative trend in biodiversity by 2030. The targets have been clarified in the Nature Restoration Law, now under drafting.

Concern has risen in Finland as to the Article 6, setting out rigid obligations to very different European cities and towns. The target of halting and reversing biodiversity loss is vital, and it is already implemented in many ways nationally, as well as locally.  

In its current wording, the Article would significantly complicate sustainable growth in cities and towns and would in fact, on the contrary to its aim, lead to urban sprawl which is harmful for both nature and climate.

Proposals for corrections to Article 6

The cities of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa, along with the Regional Councils of Helsinki-Uusimaa, Päijät-Häme and Kymenlaakso have given a shared statement in January 2023.  

  • The Article 6 nees to be made more general, setting out more general and clarified targets for the promotion of biodiversity in urban areas and requiring national actions.
  • The definitions of this article and the obligations it imposes must be clarified and their impacts assessed.

If the current wording is meant to be the starting point of a process, the following amendments are suggested:  

  1. The obligations of the Article should only be aimed at urban areas where the urban green space falls under the minimum level set by the union. 
  2. The obligations should not be tied to individual cities, administrative boundaries and percentages of their total areas.
  3. The furthering of biodiversity should be guided by the quality of green space, not just with percentage increases based on the total area of the municipality. 

Nature Restoration Law?

  • In June 2022 the European Commission gave its proposal for a nature restoration law, aiming to improve the status and biodiversity of nature.
  • 63 municipalities in Finland are covered in its Article 6, aimed at cities and towns.
  • In the Helsinki-Uusimaa Region, the Article covers half of the municipalities: Hanko, Raasepori, Lohja, Karkkila, Espoo, Kauniainen, Helsinki, Vantaa, Kerava, Järvenpää, Tuusula, Hyvinkää and Porvoo.
  • The process of the suggested nature restoration law continues now at the EU level. Finnish actors want to give their impact on the wording and contents of the Article during spring 2023.

Nature Restoration Law elsewhere on the net:

This page was last updated: 21.2.2023