Saving the Wealth of Nature

In Germany there are approximately 70,000 different species of animals, plants and micro-organisms. This great diversity of living things should not be taken for granted. Germany's National Biodiversity Strategy is a veritable blueprint to reach the nation's biodiversity goals, while numerous other organizations and projects are working to save endangered species.

A moose in the forest Enlarge image (© picture-alliance/dpa)

Germany is gaining new animal life. Wolves, lynxes and moose have all returned. Only a few years ago it was impossible to find any of these large mammals in the country. But their numbers are increasing again in Germany, slowly and without any guarantee of success.

The best example is the moose in the east of Brandenburg, the habitat where an estimated population of just ten animals has now become permanently established. Although this tiny moose population has already produced young, experts are still uncertain whether the animals might decide to roam back to Poland one day. Germany’s dense urban development and networks of roads and motorways make it difficult for the animal to settle in these surroundings.

The example of the moose illustrates the delicate balance between risk and success when trying to preserve biodiversity. It is true that Germany has not fully achieved its ambitious goal of completely halting the loss of habitats and species at national level by 2010. Nevertheless, specific measures have led to some appreciable successes, for instance in maintaining the status quo of beavers, otters and sea eagles. And according to Dr. Reinhard Piechocki, species preservation expert at the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, numerous projects have helped “to increase public awareness of the issue”.
Wolve population up in Germany Enlarge image (© picture-alliance/dpa) The German National Biodiversity Strategy is a comprehensive blueprint designed to realize the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. It contains around 330 goals and 430 measures on all topics concerning biodiversity. The project spectrum ranges from re-establishing the European sturgeon in rivers, the North Sea and the Baltic Sea to the implementation of an international standard in the sustainable collection of wild plants.

In their efforts to preserve the diversity of species in Germany, scientists form cooperation networks, such as the forum on biodiversity research at www.biodiversity.de which bundles the insights of various disciplines ranging from agriculture to marine research. The platform also provides information about concrete projects.

For example, the biologist Stefan Kreft is examining which combination of trees will best help the forests of Brandenburg to survive the effects of climate change. And hydrobiologists are accompanying the regeneration of the ecosystem in the Emscher River region, the world’s largest renaturalization programme. Wolve population up in Germany Enlarge image (© picture-alliance/dpa)

The project, with investments of around 4.4 billion Euro, is scheduled for completion by 2020. There are already marked improvements in the quality of the river water which had been polluted for decades by industrial waste in North Rhine-Westphalia. Numerous species have returned, including the rare ringed snake. 

However, such successes would be inconceivable without a high level of public involvement in nature conservation. The variety of support for biodiversity in Germany is also illustrated by the work of two environmental organizations, each with around half a million members: NABU (Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union) and BUND (League for the Environment and Nature Conservation). Among other things, BUND strongly supports agriculture that consciously sustains biological diversity, ranging from the profitable rediscovery of old types of grain to species-appropriate animal husbandry for rare breeds of pigs. In addition, BUND members have established a nationwide “wild cat rescue network” throughout Germany, one of Europe’s largest projects for the protection of species.

NABU is focusing on another type of carnivore with its “Welcome Wolf” project. Meanwhile, the initiators are happy to record around 60 wolves in Germany, a remarkable number considering that the shy animal only returned at the end of the 1990s. Their prospects for survival are looking good, because this year pups have already been sighted in all six of the packs living in the Lausitz wolf region of Saxony and Brandenburg.

Saving the Wealth of Nature