Watercolor wave
Icon clock
6 min
Reading time

The EU nature restoration law

offene Moorlandschaft

On February 27, 2024, the European Parliament voted in favor of the EU Nature Restoration Law. This is good news for the planet, because 80% of European habitats are in a poor state. What significance does the vote in favor of the EU Restoration Act have for nature conservation in Europe and the rewetting of peatlands?

Good news for the planet

Jutta Paulus – Member of the European Parliament, Jan-Niclas Gesenhues – Member of the German Bundestag and Parliamentary State Secretary in the Ministry of the Environment and Dr. Franziska Tanneberger – Greifswald Moor Centrum spoke about this together. The most important information from the webinar is summarized here.

5 1
Our conversation in 2023 with Jutta Paulus – Member of the European Parliament in Brussels

What is the Nature Restoration Law?

The Nature Restoration Law aims to restore at least 20% of Europe’s land and marine areas by 2030 and all ecosystems in poor condition by 2050. It requires EU Member States to draw up national action plans and develop nature conservation legislation for habitats outside the Natura 2000 network. The EU should play a pioneering role in the protection and restoration of nature. In order to achieve the desired targets, the EU countries must restore at least 30% of the habitat types concerned to good status by 2030. This share is to be increased to 60 % by 2040 and to 90 % by 2050.

Why is the law so important?

  • Mitigating the climate crisis and natural disasters
  • Protection and conservation of biodiversity
  • Making ecosystems more resilient
  • Protecting nature and ecosystems also means protecting humanity

What significance does the law have for wetlands in Germany?

Supporters of our mission know that wetlands are superheroes for our climate, the preservation of biodiversity and the regulation of the water balance. The Nature Restoration Law now makes wetland protection a Europe-wide law – a huge step for our peatlands and swamps. However, it is not possible to restore the wetlands without rewetting. 72% of the peatland is farmed. At least 30% of organic soils used for agriculture should be restored by 2030 (at least ¼ should be rewetted) and 50% by 2050 (at least ⅓ should be rewetted). It is a real boon for peatland and climate protection, but wet soils are causing farmers uncertainty and concern for the future of conventional agriculture.

Briefly explained…

Peatlands store carbon in the form of peat. When a peatland is drained, the exposed peat reacts with oxygen (O2) from the air. This releases the carbon as CO2 and, as a greenhouse gas, contributes to the acceleration of climate change.

6 1
Area of a peat plant near Osnabrück. When the organic soil is so open and dry, gigantic amounts of CO2 emissions are produced.


Many destroyed peatlands are currently used for agriculture: What impact does the rewetting of these soils have on agriculture?

The rewetting of peatlands does not rule out further productive use of the land for the time being. According to Franziska Tanneberger (Greifswald Moor Centrum), it would also not be expedient to remove all areas from use, as the management of wet peatlands provides new important (building) materials and at the same time contributes to climate and species protection. Rewetting is basically voluntary for farmers and private landowners, which is why it is important to create (financial) incentives for rewetting and to show farmers opportunities. Regional management concepts must be developed in order to check which areas are suitable for pure nature conservation and which areas are suitable for sustainable productive use.

How can wet peatlands be managed and how can farmers earn money with them?

There are different methods: paludiculture is a new term for the productive use of rewetted peatlands, whereby important regulating functions are retained. Examples of paludiculture include the cultivation of peat mosses, cattails and sedges or grazing with water buffalo. The cultivation of wet meadows and pastures is another possibility. The sales markets for the corresponding products are only just being established, so appropriate remuneration in the form of agricultural subsidies is essential for farmers. So far, however, agricultural subsidies have not been geared towards rewetted soils, so that drained arable soils have a higher value than wet peatlands, even though they are so harmful to the climate (source: Mooratlas, 2023). It is therefore the task of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to redistribute agricultural subsidies correctly. Franziska Tanneberger explains that appropriate funding programs need to be developed in order to enable corresponding rewards.

CO2 certificates also represent an option for remuneration and are definitely useful for creating incentives to rewet peatland. This already exists for the voluntary market, for example. Moorfutures, whose donations are invested in specific climate protection projects. However, Franziska Tanneberger emphasizes that emissions from peatlands must first be reduced to net zero and that it is important to take a close look at what is being sold. Rewarding other ecosystem services provided by peatlands, such as the filter function and thus clean water, are other possible future models. Evidence must be created to measure and evaluate performance accordingly.

How can we imagine the implementation? Where can I get advice as a farmer?

Jan-Laut Niclas Gesenhues explains that the Nature Restoration Law provides for a stakeholder-oriented process. Communication among key decision-makers is therefore crucial for successful implementation. Farmers in particular should be involved in the development of locally specific measures. The Natural Climate Protection Competence Center will also play an important role, where municipalities can find out about funding programs, for example. Farmers receive advice on possible conversions, for example to paludiculture, via the chambers of agriculture. According to Franziska Tanneberger, the Greifswald Mire Center is also working on answering and communicating questions and uncertainties from the public.

What happens next and what significance does the Nature Restoration Law have for our Mission to Marsh?

The vote for the Europe-wide Nature Restoration Law is a real success for the planet and for peatlands. It is now the responsibility of the federal government and the federal states to transpose the European law into national law and develop concrete action plans. In the meantime, we are working to ensure that the rewetting of the peatlands remains dynamic and you can also contribute to this.

7 1
Our CEO Alexander Kornelsen visits a peatland with Matthias Schreiber from NABU Osnabrück

Many thanks to Jutta Paulus who, as a Member of the European Parliament, has helped to ensure that the Nature Restoration Law comes into force. Many thanks also to Franziska Tanneberger and Jan-Niclas Gesenhues for supporting the webinar with their expertise.

Let’s use the #moormentum

Do you also want to make moorland protection your mission? There are numerous ways in which you can support us.
Support us now Donate

More stories

Luftaufnahem Venner Moor
Icon clock
6 min

A short history about peatlands

Germany was once a very bog-rich country, with an area of over five percent, roughly the size of Saxony (source: Mooratlas, 2023). The ...
Read more
Icon clock
3 min

Relics of the last ice age

Peatlands are permanently wet wetlands and combine life on land with life in the water, which makes them so unique. But how were ...
Read more
Icon clock
2 min

Dreamlike cotton grass blossom

Once a year, the peatlands are being wrapped in absorbent cotton: The breathtaking natural spectacle attracts numerous visitors to the wetland when the ...
Read more
Spenden Moorathon 2024 Website Cover
Icon clock
4 min

MOORathon 2024

This year we will start a movement with our moor protection. As part of an inclusive charity run, we will work with sponsors ...
Read more
Moorschutz mit Solarpumpe
Icon clock
5 min

How does renaturation work?

Renaturation refers to the restoration of ecosystems to a near-natural state. For raised bogs, this means the reintroduction of typical raised bog plants, ...
Read more
Mission to Marsh Film Teaser 2024
Icon clock
2 min

Documentary Film Teaser

Welcome to our “Mission to Marsh”. Join us on an exciting journey and learn more about the extraordinary importance of wetlands for our ...
Read more