We can see globally that there has been a real shift towards boosting biodiversity and heightened interest in its importance to tackling climate change. Both COP26 and COP27 had a renewed focus on biodiversity instead of focusing more on climate. The link between biodiversity loss and climate change as drivers for one another are increasingly seen as connected. Both addressed the urgent need for biodiversity restoration through nature-based solutions and nature-positive investments.
In December 2022, COP15 was seen as a vital moment for the way we work towards boosting biodiversity and putting nature first. The Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) was launched, where it was touted as the new Paris Agreement for nature, the guiding principles that would shape nature-positive action. This ‘North Star’ for biodiversity commitments will help guide governments and corporates in their nature and biodiversity strategies going forward. An earlier draft included 23 biodiversity targets (visible here) and a general concept of reaching ‘nature positivity’. During COP15, we saw 195 countries rally behind critical targets such as protecting 30% of the planet by 2030, also known as the 30 by 30 target. From now on, the general proposal is to bend the curve on biodiversity loss and have more nature and biodiversity in 2030 than in 2020. This trend will continue until hopefully reaching full ecosystem recovery in 2050. This could be seen as a pivotal moment for nature restoration. The GBF has articulated another concrete call to action that compliments the focus of climate action, shifting attention from a purely climate or carbon-focused lens to actively including nature and biodiversity.
On a more regional level, the EU biodiversity strategy for 2030 is a comprehensive, ambitious and long-term plan to protect nature and reverse the degradation of ecosystems. The strategy aims to put Europe’s biodiversity on a path to recovery by 2030, and contains specific actions and commitments. The main goal is to reverse the degradation of ecosystems and protect nature. This legislation proposal would aim to repair 80% of European habitats in poor condition, and legally binds member states to committing to these nature restoration targets. The EU states, “The aim is to cover at least 20% of the EU’s land and sea areas by 2030 with nature restoration measures, and eventually extend these to all ecosystems in need of restoration by 2050.” Alongside this, new rules on chemical pesticides aim to reduce the footprint of food systems in the EU, as they propose to reduce the use and risk of chemical pesticides by 50% by 2030. Additionally, under the European Green Deal, the EU biodiversity strategy for 2030 commits to planting at least 3 billion additional trees in the EU by 2030 in full respect of ecological principles. Land Life is actively part of this initiative, having pledged our reforestation efforts to contribute to this target.
Another EU initiative that we at Land Life are part of is a project called the SUPERB consortium: “Systemic solutions for upscaling of urgent ecosystem restoration for forest-related biodiversity and ecosystem services.” SUPERB aims to restore our forest landscape by creating an enabling environment for the implementation of forest restoration and adaptation at different scales. SUPERB is a 4-year EU-funded Horizon 2020 project that kicked off in December 2021 and was coordinated by the European Forest Institute. The project consortium consists of 36 science and practice partners from all over Europe.
These initiatives and changes not only suggest we can be optimistic about reforming current systems, but also outline that biodiversity is being taken seriously at an international policy level. We are far from being done, there is so much that needs doing regarding protecting and restoring ecosystems and, in turn, boosting biodiversity. Our use of technology is going to play a big role, meaning we need to make sure that innovations are developed with the correct goals that really do benefit biodiversity and nature.
However, by really understanding biodiversity and how reliant species are on each other, we can start understanding the importance of every aspect of biodiversity, be it the microorganisms in soil or the koala. The system is reliant on its diversity, the ecosystems made up of all these species thrive when they are healthy, and we, as humans, rely on healthy ecosystems for our own survival. To restore these, our relationship with nature needs to change, and we need to start respecting biodiversity, ecosystems, and nature in a way that means we don’t take advantage of it but work with it.
To truly understand nature and to measure our impact, we need data. However, measuring nature is hard. The intricate web of life that supports resilient ecosystems is not always visible to the naked eye. There are so many different aspects of measurement that it is hard to standardize and regulate this measurement so that impact statements are made in a standard way. As global and regional initiatives shift focus towards biodiversity, it will mean more funding and demand for quantifying biodiversity impact. Land Life is constantly on the lookout for ways to effectively measure biodiversity impact and one avenue we are currently exploring is eDNA with British company NatureMetrics.
Technology will be a vital tool for harnessing the potential of biodiversity measurement and building databases that inform us of how to take the best action. This is already happening, but we can expect initiatives to emerge and grow in what will be the “biodiversity sector” to happen rapidly. From this, a biodiversity market is already emerging. If done properly, this could be something to be optimistic about for nature restoration globally.
Fundamentally it’s about measuring, better managing and preserving biodiversity, as opposed to creating ways to “offset” negative biodiversity impact. As mentioned above, because biodiversity is so complicated, and there are many ways to measure it, it is unlikely that a “one size fits all” strategy will be possible. As the dust settles after COP15, biodiversity is now at the forefront of climate action, and how it will be implemented will be really important.
Often reading about biodiversity, the causes of its decline from human activity and climate change can feel daunting, but it is also a significant opportunity for systematic change. Changes that can be made by individuals, businesses, governments and international organizations alike. It’s an exciting time to be a nature restoration company. There is a huge, undeniable problem, but also multiple valid solutions. Boosting biodiversity has always been an essential part of our work, and as we go forward, we will continue to ensure our reforestation projects create a solid biodiversity impact.