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LAND4CLIMATE x World Environment Day 2024: The Critical Role of Private Land in Environmental Conservation

This year World Environment Day's theme 'Land Restoration, Desertification, and Drought Resilience' is a strong reminder of the pressing environmental challenges we confront. Our ecosystems, spanning urban, rural, and coastal areas, are threatened due to the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss. To tackle the situation, the European Union (EU) has already set ambitious targets for climate neutrality and restoration of natural habitats and ecosystems across Europe. The Nature Restoration Law 2050, in particular, outlines specific goals such as rehabilitating a significant portion of degraded habitats, bolstering wildlife populations, and promoting sustainable land use practices. However, realising these objectives toward climate resilience necessitates a united front that extends beyond public lands to encompass private land conservation.


Private land conservation involves the protection and management of natural resources on privately owned lands. Given that a substantial portion of land in many EU countries is privately owned (e.g., 60% of forest areas in EU are privately owned), conservation efforts on these lands are crucial for achieving overall biodiversity and climate adaptation targets. To be successful, private land conservation, however, requires collaboration between private landowners, local governments, and conservation organizations. Initiatives must engage private landowners in the protection and management of local natural resources. This collaborative approach can significantly enhance the implementation of environmental policies across Europe, making conservation efforts more widespread and effective. Moreover, private land conservation is traditionally seen as a voluntary effort by various stakeholders, including individuals, landowner groups, corporations, or non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Voluntary stewardship reflects the landowners' commitment to environmental sustainability and can be formalized through legal designations or binding agreements. 


Historical Context and Current Priority Strategies in the EU


Traditionally, the EU has relied on national governments to create and manage protected areas to meet biodiversity goals. Incorporating private land conservation into existing EU policies can enhance their effectiveness in reaching the goals. Here is a list of current priority strategies, 



  1. The 'EU Nature Restoration Law' focuses on restoring degraded ecosystems to improve nature and biodiversity and enhance climate neutrality. Including private land can help achieve restoration targets more comprehensively. 
  2. To be climate-neutral by 2050, the EU targets to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions for all countries as a whole, mainly by cutting emissions, investing in green technologies and protecting the natural environment. By including private landowners from industry, transport, buildings, agriculture and forestry sites
  3. The 'Natura 2000' is a network of protected areas aimed at ensuring the protection of Europe's most valuable and threatened species. Private land conservation can expand and connect these areas, improving ecological connectivity.
  4. The 'Water Framework Directive (WFD)' aims to achieve good qualitative and quantitative health for all water bodies. Private land conservation can help protect water resources by preserving natural landscapes and improving water quality.
  5. The 'Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)' governs agricultural practices in the EU. Incorporating private land conservation can promote sustainable farming practices and enhance natural resource management on agricultural lands.
  6. The 'Farm-to-Fork Strategy' aims to create a fair, healthy, and environmentally friendly food system. Private land conservation can support this by promoting sustainable agricultural practices, conserving natural resources and reversing biodiversity loss.


On 5 June, World Environment Day 2024, LAND4CLIMATE states the importance of private land and its conservation to ensure a better environment. By involving private landowners in conservation efforts, we can significantly enhance the implementation of environmental strategies and policies and achieve the ambitious biodiversity and climate neutrality targets set by the EU. This collaborative approach, integrating public and private efforts, is crucial for the long-term sustainability of our planet's ecosystems.

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