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 16 UNESCO biosphere reserves that are totally different in character, along with thousands of nature reserves.
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 fair 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 protecting the marine environment. Seas are rich in biodiversity and a source of raw materials, energy, and food. Oil production, shipping, overfishing, littering with poorly degradable substances (plastic waste), and acidification caused by carbon dioxide put an immense strain on the ecosystem. In the context of Germany’s G20 Presidency in 2017, government representatives and experts agreed on a joint action plan to stop the littering of the oceans. The Federal Government intends to use its EU Presidency in 2020 to ambitiously expand European environmental protection, with more funding for nature conservation and a new independent EU conservation fund. Particular attention will be given to the insect die-off. The Federal Government intends to launch an action plan to improve living conditions for insects. A scientific biodiversity monitoring centre is also to be established.