Essential diversity

Kleiner Arber
Kleiner Arber picture alliance/ZB
16 national parks and 15 biosphere reserves between the North Sea and the Alps afford many rare animal and plant species special protection.

Germany is a country with great biological diversity. Around 48,000 animal species, and 24,000 types of higher plants, mosses, fungi, lichens, and algae are native to the country. Having been enshrined in the Basic Law in 1994, the protection of the natural habitats is an official goal of government. Between the North Sea and the Alps, the lawmakers have designates 16 national parks and 15 UNESCO biosphere reserves that are totally different in character, along with thousands of nature reserves.

picture alliance/ZB

Germany is a signatory state to the most ­important international agreements on biodiversity, and a party to around 30 intergovernmental treaties and programmes with nature protection as their goal. By ratifying the United Nations’ Convention on Biodiversity, the governments of 196 countries pledged to significantly reduce the rate of loss of biological diversity. To date, however, no turnaround in the extinction of species has been achieved. In 2010, an international framework for access to genetic resources and just benefit sharing was passed at the Conference of Parties to the Convention in Nagoya (Japan). The Nagoya Protocol has been in force since 2014.

In Germany more than 40 percent of vertebrates and plant species are considered to be endangered. For this reason, efforts aimed at nature conservation and species protection on land, in the water, and in the North and Baltic Seas are to be stepped up. The primary objective is to reduce the destruction of habitats by house and road building, as well as the pollution levels that result, among other things, from intensive farming and over-fertilisation. The amount of land used for housing construction and new transport routes is intended to be reduced from 70 to 30 hectares daily. A further aim is to allow “wilderness” on two percent of the nation’s territory and give five percent of forests over to nature. In 2015, numerous former military zones covering a total of 31,000 hectares, including moors and heaths, were devoted to nature conservation.

Increasing attention is being paid to the protection of the marine environment. Seas are rich in biological diversity, and a source of raw materials, energy, and food. The ecosystem is highly contaminated through oil production, shipping, over-fishing, the influx of poorly degradable substances (plastic waste) and acidification through carbon dioxide. Data compiled by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reveal that global fish and aquaculture production has more than doubled since the 1980s. At the 2015 G7 Summit in Elmau the heads of state and government discussed ways of better preserving the maritime ecosystem. In future living wild animals from Asia, Africa, and Latin America that have been caught in the wild and are offered for sale on the German market will also be afforded greater protection. The import into the EU of animals caught in the wild as well as commercial wild animal exchanges in Germany are to be banned.

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