TALLINN - Estonian Minister of Rural Affairs Urmas Kruuse said at a meeting of the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council that flexible requirements are needed for nature restoration.
Discussions at the AGRIFISH Council meeting focused on nature restoration, availability of fertilizers, bioeconomy conferences and peat, spokespeople for the Ministry of Rural Affairs said on Tuesday. Flexible requirements are needed in nature restoration, Kruuse was quoted as saying.
The Estonian rural affairs minister said that nature restoration is important for improving biodiversity and mitigating climate change. He noted that more flexibility is needed and the characteristics of individual member states should be taken into consideration.
"In Estonia, the share of agricultural land with peat soils is significantly larger than the average in the European Union," he said, adding that in order to fulfill the goal, the regulation should allow to take into account to a greater extent other ecosystems located on peatlands instead of agricultural land and fully utilized peat production areas.
The use of peat was discussed separately at a lunch meeting organized by Finland. Kruuse said at the meeting that horticultural peat has an important role in the production of food, which makes imposing abrupt limitations on the extraction and use of peat complicated.
"With the ongoing war in Ukraine, growing urbanization, reduction in the area of agricultural land and degradation of agricultural soils, it is important that the production of food should not be jeopardized," he said, noting that adding value to peat must be fostered and alternatives need to be found for peat as a broadly used substrate.
"Estonia does not produce mineral fertilizers and the European Union only produces them in small quantities, which is why we depend on imports," Kruuse said, commenting on the need to reduce the use of mineral fertilizers.
The minister noted that the bioeconomy has a future and that Estonia, too, has held a bioeconomy conference.
"A balance is needed between climate, environmental and economic goals in all areas of the bioeconomy from food production to energy," he said.
The Estonian Ministry of Rural Affairs was represented at the meeting of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Brussels by Kruuse, the ministry's secretary general Marko Gorban and head of the department of foreign relations and euro-coordination Peeter Seestrand.