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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 biggest cities in Finland, most of the Regional Councils and the Association of Finnish Municipalities have expressed their common concern about the proposed article 6. The shared statement was published in May and the group of signatories expanded in June 2023.

We propose that the Article 6 will be modified according to the following principles:

  • There should be more flexibility in the Article 6 for local circumstances to be taken into account.
  • A threshold value should be set concerning the obligations to preserve and increase the amount of urban green space.
  • Urban biodiversity and the use of green infrastructure in built environment must be increased in all Member States.

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. 

  • 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 the year 2023.

This page was last updated: 19.9.2023