Biological Diversity

Biological diversity or biodiversity provides the basic resources needed for food and human health. It comprises animal and plant species, including microorganisms, habitats and genetic differences within species.

All three areas are closely connected and mutually influence each other. Species are dependent on certain habitats and also on other species. Genetic differences improve the ability of organisms to adapt to altered conditions. Their habitats are in turn dependent on prevailing conditions as regards climate, water and soil.

The exciting and essential biodiversity world

  • Bees and other insects fly back and forth, buzzing from flower to flower. Without their pollination services, we would not be able to buy much of the fruit and many of vegetables we have come to enjoy.
  • It is thanks to the unrelenting work of numerous soil organisms that we have access to fertile soil.
  • Forests and woodlands produce the oxygen we need to breathe, play a key role in regulating our climate and supply wood and timber as a natural, renewable resource.
  • Wetlands like moors and wet meadows can absorb large quantities of water and release them gradually over time. They filter groundwater and store carbon dioxide, thus reducing the greenhouse gas effect.
  • Near-natural river meadows serve as natural water filters and lessen the impact from floods.
  • A large number of medicines stem from natural resources and new substances are being discovered all the time.
  • Technological innovations are often based on a role model found in nature.
  • Biological diversity makes ecosystems better able to adapt to the effects of climate change.

These are some of the many reasons why we need to care for and conserve the biodiversity on which we all rely.

Caption: Unfertilised low-nutrient meadows are rich in biodiversity. Photo: Biologische Station Oberberg

Why biodiversity conservation?

Biological diversity or biodiversity is the basis for life on Earth.

It comprises:

  • Animal and plant species, including microorganisms.
  • Habitats and ecosystems.
  • Genetic variety within species.

All three areas are closely connected and mutually influence each other:

  • Species are dependent on certain habitats and also on other species.
  • Genetic variety improves the ability of living creatures and other organisms to adapt to altered conditions.
  • Their habitats are in turn dependent on prevailing conditions as regards climate, water and soil.

The Earth’s biodiversity is the basis for food and health. It supplies resources such as fresh water, clean air and fertile soil, pollination of fruit and vegetables, and protection against floods, thus performing a range of services vital to life. These services can only be retained if biodiversity is conserved.

The UN Convention on Biodiversity

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is an internationally binding agreement. It was adopted at the World Summit in Rio de Janeiro on 5 June 1992 and entered into force on 29 December 1993. The Convention has since been ratified by 193 states.

The CBD has three main objectives:

  • Conservation of biological diversity
  • Sustainable use of its components
  • Fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources – known as access and benefit sharing (ABS)

So far, two protocols have been adopted at the Conference of the Parties, which is held every two years:

  • The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety  (2000) governs cross-border trade and handling of living modified organisms.
  • The Nagoya Protocol  (2010) provides the legally-binding framework for access to genetic resources and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from their utilization.

In 2010, the Parties agreed the Aichi Biodiversity Targets as part of a strategic plan to reduce biodiversity loss. These targets include making people aware of the values of biodiversity and the steps they can take to conserve and use it sustainably.

National Strategy on Biological Diversity

The German Cabinet adopted Germany’s National Strategy on Biological Diversity (NBS) on 7 November 2007. The Strategy sets out a comprehensive and ambitious strategic plan for the implementation of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Germany.

The NBS:

  • Contains future-focused visions along with concrete, measurable goals (330) and activities (430) which are to be implemented by 2020.
  • Aims to halt biodiversity loss in Germany and reverse the downward trend.
  • Is based on the principle of sustainable development and thus gives equal consideration to environmental, economic and social issues.
  • Is to be seen as a shared social responsibility. Its implementation can only succeed if actors at state and non-state level, and from all sectors join forces and work together as one.

NBS at a glance 

Nature Conservation Campaign 2020

Germany’s National Strategy for Biological Diversity Indicator Report 2014 (PDF) highlighted the fact that the biodiversity conservation measures taken to date do not go far enough and that biodiversity loss continues unabated in many areas.

The Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) thus launched the Nature Conservation Campaign 2020 on 14 October 2015. The campaign, which takes the form of an action plan, is designed to:

  • Drive the implementation of the NBS by 2020.
  • Highlight the action areas in which the greatest deficits exist.
  • Indicate where greater biodiversity conservation efforts are needed in the period up to 2020.
  • Provide a package of 40 concrete measures in 10 action areas.

Download BfN Report on the Nature Conservation Campaign 2020 (Fachinformation zur Naturschutzoffensive – PDF in German)

 

 

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