Nature protection and biodiversity - National Responses (Germany)

SOER 2010 Common environmental theme (Deprecated)
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SOER Common environmental theme from Germany
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German Federal Environment Agency
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Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 11 May 2020 Feed synced: 23 Nov 2010 original

National Strategy on Biological Diversity

The Federal Government adopted the National Strategy on Biological Diversity, a comprehensive strategy for the whole of society to implement the UN Biodiversity Convention, on 7 November 2007. The strategy has its roots in the National Sustainability Strategy and is linked to other EU and relevant national sectoral strategies. It sets out around 330 practical objectives and 430 measures encouraging various state and non-state stakeholders to take action. Many of the objectives are quantified and around a third of all the objectives are to be achieved by specific target dates between now and 2020, or in one case 2050. The strategy also contains a set of indicators.

Following a phase of publicising the strategy nationwide, a process of dialogue has now been launched with the stakeholders involved to form a basis for putting it into practice.

Selected objectives of the National Strategy on Biological Diversity

Protecting biodiversity

  • By 2010 the proportion of critical and endangered species should have fallen.

  • By 2020 species for which Germany has a particular conservation responsibility should have achieved viable population sizes. By 2020 the threat status of the majority of species on the Red List should have improved by one level.

  • By 2010 Germany should have a representative and functional ecological network covering 10 % of its territory. This should be capable of providing permanent protection for the habitats of wild species and should form an integral part of a European ecological network.

  • By 2020 nature should be able to develop undisturbed and according to its own laws across 2 % of Germany, and areas of wilderness should be developing.

  • By 2020 forests that have developed naturally should account for 5 % of woodlands.

  • By 2020 watercourses and their water meadows should be protected, so that their typical diversity as a natural area is guaranteed; river flood plains should be extended by at least 10 % by 2020.

  • By 2020, the water regime in intact peatlands should be protected and regenerable peatlands permanently restored.

Using biodiversity sustainably

  • By 2015 the proportion of land used for agro-biotopes valuable for conservation – high-grade grassland and orchard meadows – should have increased by at least 10 % compared with 2005. By 2010, semi-natural landscape elements – such as hedges, borders, field shrubs and small bodies of water – should account for at least 5 % of agricultural areas.

  • The production and use of renewable energies should not come at the expense of biodiversity.

  • By 2020 the additional land taken for human settlement and transport should be no more than 30 ha/day.

  • The current proportion of unfragmented low-traffic areas > 100 km2 should be maintained.

  • By 2020 existing transport routes should no longer cause major adverse effects for the network of linked biotopes. Fragmented areas should be ecologically passable.

  • No imports of illegally felled wood or wood products into Germany in compliance with WTO requirements, by 2010 at the latest.

Environmental influences on biodiversity

  • Reductions in surplus of nitrogen in the overall balance to 80 kg/ha by 2010; try to achieve a further reduction by 2015.

  • By 2020 cultivation-related discharges of substances into soils used in agriculture and forestry will be reduced.

Achieving these will require a wide range of measures. The following section therefore gives a short description of some of the basic instruments now being used.

Conservation areas

International conservation areas

Biosphere reserves:

UNESCO has recognised 15 biosphere reserves in Germany. The purpose of these is to promote and provide good examples of a balanced relationship between man and the biosphere.

Wetlands of international importance –Ramsar sites:

Germany currently has 34 Ramsar sites with a total area of around 870 000 ha. More than 80 % is tidal flats and open water areas along the North and Baltic Seas. On average 40 % of the total area is protected as nature conservation areas or national parks.

Special Protection Areas under Article 4 of the Birds Directive:

By 2009, 738 Special Protection Areas (SPAs) had been registered under the Birds Directive (Directive 2009/147/EC) by the Länder or in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) by the federal authorities. Some 3.99 million ha, around 11.2 % of Germany’s land area, in addition to around 1.98 million ha of tidal flats and open water areas are designated as European SPAs for birds.

Protected areas under the Habitats Directive:

The list of Natura 2000 designated areas shows how many sites are protected as part of the implementation of the two EU conservation directives – the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive. These sites serve to protect the types of habitat listed in Annexes I and II of the Habitats Directive and species of Community importance, as well as the species of birds listed in Annex I of the Birds Directive and other migratory species regularly found in the Member States. In Germany 91 Annex I habitats and 137 Annex II species under the Habitats Directive and around 100 Annex I species under the Birds Directive occur. 15.3 % of Germany’s territory has been designated as Natura 2000 sites. In the EEZ, ten sites covering 1 039 270 ha or 31.4 % have been designated. Thus, the designation of Natura 2000 sites has been completed in Germany.

National conservation areas

Protecting endangered sites that are worth conserving is one of Germany’s main nature conservation instruments. The Federal Nature Conservation Act (Bundesnaturschutzgesetz, BNatSchG) contains different categories of protected area, each with its own statutory requirements – nature conservation area (NCAs), national parks (NPs), national natural monuments, biosphere reserves, nature parks, landscape conservation areas and biotopes with statutory protection under Articles 23-30 of the Federal Nature Conservation Act, as well as Natura 2000 protected areas under Article 32 of the Federal Nature Conservation Act.

In NCAs and NPs strict rules apply to ensure the conservation and development of rare and threatened species and biotopes. NPs are large scale landscapes: their aim is to ensure that natural processes take place with as little disruption as possible.

The area of strictly protected sites (NPs and NCAs) grew from 1 129 225 ha in 2000 (3.2 % of the national territory) to 1 455 695 ha (4.1 %) in 2008. The increase has been largely down to national implementation of the Natura 2000 network. 15.3 % of Germany’s territory has been designated as Natura 2000 sites. These sites are successively coming under protection. In accordance to the relevant conservation objectives not all of them require strict protection as NCA or NP. However, given that the protection of Natura 2000 sites is still ongoing, the area of strictly protected sites is likely to increase.

Nature conservation areas:

At the end of 2008, Germany had 8 413 nature conservation areas covering 1 271 582 ha –3.6 % of national territory, excluding marine sites – and increase of 35 % since 1997.

National parks:

Germany currently has 14 NPs. The total area increased from 947 859 ha in 2002 to 962 051 ha in 2009, largely as a result of the designation of Eifel and Kellerwald-Edersee NPs in 2004 .The total area of NPs represents around 0.54 % of the national terrestrial area excluding the tidal flats and open waters of the North and Baltic Seas.

Biosphere reserves:

Most of Germany’s 16 biosphere reserves have been designated under the law of the Länder. Some, such as the Wadden Sea reserve, almost completely overlap NPs and are thus protected, others are protected as NCAs and landscape conservation areas (LCAs). Biosphere reserves cover 1 873 911 ha, or 3.4 % of land area, excluding the tidal flats and open waters of the North and Baltic Seas. Fifteen are UNESCO biosphere reserves and thus, as part of the world network, are involved in implementing the Man and the Biosphere programme.

Landscape conservation areas:

LCAs are legally designated areas where, under Article 26(1) of the Federal Nature Conservation Act, ‘special protection must be given to nature and landscape’. Compared with NCAs, these are usually extensive sites with less strict protection rules. At the end of 2008 there were 7 203 LCAs with an overall area of around 9.9 million ha, 28 % of Germany’s statistical territory.

Nature parks:

Nature parks both protect and conserve cultural landscapes with their biotope and species diversity and provide facilities for recreation, nature- and environmentally-friendly tourism and sustainable nature- and environmentally-friendly land use. According to information from the Länder in January 2010 there were 100 nature parks, with a total area of over 9.2 million ha, or 26.0 % of Germany’s land area. The area had increased by 2.3 million ha between 1998 and 2009. Around 60 % of their area is now classified as conservation area, thereof around 4.7 % as NCA.

Species conservation under the Federal Nature Conservation Act and the Federal Species Conservation Regulation

Special conservation rules for some of native species are being introduced at the national level on the basis of the Federal Nature Conservation Act. The species are listed in Annex 1 of the Federal Species Conservation Regulation, where they are classified as specially or strictly protected.

In principle all animals and plants enjoy general protection against unnecessary disturbance. Further-reaching instruments apply to specially protected species – bans on removal, access and disturbance; bans on owning and marketing; certification requirements proving lawful acquisition; restrictions on ownership; notification, record-keeping and marking requirements; confiscation and seizure procedures irrespective of fault.

In providing this protection the Federal Nature Conservation Act is also implementing requirements under the following EU directives and regional or international conventions:

– the Birds Directive (see below),

– the Habitats Directive (see below),

– the Seal Pups Directive (83/129/EEC),

– the Bern Convention,

– CITES Convention (see below).

Under the 2010 Federal Nature Conservation Act, special emphasis is also placed on prevention so that ecosystems, biotopes and species do not come under threat from invasive species. If invasive species arrive in Germany, they are to be prevented from becoming established or spreading through early detection and immediate intervention.

Comprehensive instruments and approaches

Status and implementation of landscape planning

Landscape planning is the key precautionary instrument for conservation and landscape management in Germany. Its role is to identify, define and establish conservation and landscape management objectives, nationwide needs and measures at various planning and landscape levels in landscape programmes, framework landscape plans and landscape plans. It is thus the main instrument for bringing together and coordinating nature and landscape conservation concerns geared towards the conservation, management and development of nature and the landscape, such as linked biotopes, Natura 2000, the relinking of habitats or precautionary planning for recreation sites.

Landscape planning also provides basic conservation principles and standards for the site-specific management of sustainable land use and for assessing the environmental friendliness. It is thus also an important instrument for influencing plans, decisions and uses in other areas of policy and ensures that biodiversity concerns are integrated in other sectors.

Status and implementation of the Impact Mitigation Regulation

The purpose of the Impact Mitigation Regulation nationwide is to prioritise the prevention of major damage to natural balance, landscape and biodiversity. Where this is not possible, priority must be given to natural mitigation and replacement measures to offset the damage. In national terms the Impact Mitigation Regulation has been applied successfully for more than 30 years as an instrument of nature conservation.

Maintenance and defragmentation of habitat networks – the German Defragmentation Programme

One of the most important threats caused by the transport network is the fragmentation of the existing habitat network. An integrative (geographical) information system of habitat networks (biotope systems of forest, wet, and dry biotopes) and a network for silvicolous larger mammals (Federal mammal network) was developed in order to mitigate further threats caused by the planning of new roads. Based on these data the most important conflict areas in the legal planning process of new roads can be indentified and mitigated.

Because of a lack of legal frameworks to defragment the existing road network build in the last century, priority sites for measures to overcome road-related barriers were identified in a rule based manner by using the integrative (geographical) information system of habitat networks and Federal mammal network. Founded on these results the German Defragmentation Program was developed. It is intended to implement this program in 2010.

Ecological networks

Biodiversity cannot be conserved just by protecting individual habitats, it also requires the protection and (re-)establishment of ecological networks. This requires implementation at all planning levels – international, national, Land, regional, local. Elements of regional ecological networks and locally interlinked habitats must support and supplement the system of ecological networks at national and international level and in the Länder. Implementation is primarily the responsibility of the Länder.

The development of an overarching ecological network across all Länder is an important issue in the National Biodiversity Strategy. On the basis of the provisions of the Federal Nature Conservation Act on the ecological network and technical criteria for identifying nationally important elements of the ecological network developed by a working group of the agencies for nature conservation of the Länder together with the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, existing sites have been identified in forests, open country and watercourses. In addition nationally and internationally important corridors in Germany and the development sites needed to guarantee a functional ecological network are currently being identified at a national level.

Federal Government support instruments

With chance.natur, the programme of aid for nationally representative large-scale nature conservation projects, the Federal Government has been making an important contribution to protecting Germany’s natural heritage since 1979 and is also helping to implement international conventions on nature conservation. Up to now more than 70 projects have received aid of more than € 390 million and currently around € 14 million per year is available for this programme.

Innovative, practical and widely usable nature conservation concepts can be tested as part of trial and development (T+D) projects. The Federal Government provide scientific back-up for these projects, which should ensure that they produce sound recommendations and successful approaches that are widely transferable. Since the start in 1987 around € 120 million has been provided for more than 90 projects and currently the T+D programme has an annual budget of around € 3 million.

(Selected) Sources:

Binot, M., Bless, R., Boye, P., Gruttke, H. & Pretscher, P. (eds.): Rote Liste gefährdeter Tiere Deutschlands. - Bonn-Bad Godesberg (Federal Agency for Nature Conservation), Schriftenreihe für Landschaftspflege und Naturschutz 55: 434 pp.

Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (ed.) (2008): Daten zur Natur 2008 - Bonn-Bad Godesberg: 368 pp.

Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (ed.) (2009): Rote Liste gefährdeter Tiere, Pflanzen und Pilze Deutschlands. Band 1: Wirbeltiere. - Bonn-Bad Godesberg (Federal Agency for Nature Conservation), Naturschutz und Biologische Vielfalt 70 (1): 386 pp.

Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Reactor Safety (BMU) (ed.) (2009): Bericht der Bundesregierung zur Lage der Natur in der 16. Legislaturperiode – Bonn: 72 pp.

Riecken, U., Finck, P., Raths, U., Schröder, E. & Ssymank, A. (2006): Rote Liste der gefährdeten Biotoptypen Deutschlands. Zweite fortgeschrittene Fassung 2006 – Naturschutz und Biologische Vielfalt 34, Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN), Bonn-Bad Godesberg


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