German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)



Farming has made the landscape more varied, fostered biodiversity and shaped the cultivated landscape for many centuries. Since the 1950s, however, farming has become more intensive and many marginal sites have been abandoned. This caused extensively farmed ecosystems to disappear together with animal and plant species that had adapted to them. It is not enough to pursue nature conservation objectives in protected areas alone, however. They must also take in cultivated land. Farming is essential to the attainment of many nature conservation aims. Sustainable farming is therefore needed as part of efforts to conserve biodiversity.


Icon Agro-Genetic Engineering

Use of agro-genetic engineering in agriculture and forestry poses a threat to nature and nature conservation. This is why European and German law makes approval of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) subject to risk assessment to identify the impacts on nature and the environment. The Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) assists in GMO approval by providing expertise in matters concerning nature conservation and environment protection. This section of the BfN website gives an insight into the conflict between agro-genetic engineering and nature conservation.

Agro-genetic Engineering

Biological diversity, or biodiversity, means the diversity of life on Earth – the variability among living organisms and the ecological complexes of which they are part.



As early as 1973, the international community adopted the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in response to the threat that use of natural resources poses to animal and plant species. As Germany’s competent authority in CITES enforcement, BfN is responsible for the approval of imports and exports of protected species.

Biodiversity and climate are closely related and impact each other. To an increasing degree climate change not only threatens biodiversity but also the human society and their natural resources. Through the protection, restoration and sustainable use of ecosystems, effective conservation can contribute to mitigate climate change and protect the population against the impacts of extreme events and natural disasters. These so-called ecosystem-based approaches use ecosystem services such as the carbon sequestration capacity of ecosystems.

Biodiversity and Climate Change

Economic aspects are increasingly relevant to nature conservation. Knowledge of the economic framework and economic lines of argument helps improve nature conservation. Increasing use is made of insights from economics in the development and refinement of sustainable strategies. This relates to issues such as the economic impacts of nature conservation and how it is funded.

Economics for Nature Conservation

Nature knows no political boundaries. What applies to the ranges of plants and animals applies equally to many environmental and conservation issues. The consequences of overexploiting nature are often felt far afield and in other countries (one example is climate change). On the other hand, it is precisely the highly industrialized nations which make extensive use of natural resources in other countries. This makes it essential to cooperate at international level to solve shared problems in the realm of nature conservation.

International Nature Conservation

The legal framework is important in determining the effectiveness of nature conservation activities. The Federal Agency for Nature Conservation supports the ongoing development of nature conservation law at national and international level and develops approaches for integrating nature conservation objectives into other areas of law that are important to nature conservation concerns.


Tasks, BfN activities and projects for the conservation of marine biodiversity.

Marine Nature Conservation

Nature conservation monitoring is required under various national and international regulatory frameworks. Monitoring can take place at the level of landscapes, habitats, ecological communities and species. Suitable systems of indicators are needed in order to present the results.


The Nagoya Protocol is a new instrument of international nature protection. It contributes to a better consideration of the value of biodiversity when developing new products. As such it sets incentives for the conservation and sustainable use of nature. The Protocol has been implemented within the EU by Regulation No. 511/2014. As per this, when using genetic resources a due diligence regime needs to be considered in order to meet the requirements of the Nagoya Protocol.


Germany’s National Natural Heritage scheme covers outstanding natural and cultural landscapes of national conservation interest. Of these are transferred without cost - based on the coalition agreements adopted in 2005, 2009 and 2013 - some 156,000 hectares to Länder agencies, nature conservation organisations or foundations to be conserved in perpetuity. The future aim in the transferred forests is wilderness. In water-influenced habitats and in open landscapes the high-value biotopes are to be preserved and developed.

National Natural Heritage

Icon Natura2000

To reverse ongoing decline in the numbers of wild species and natural habitats in the EU and maintain biodiversity, the Birds Directive was adopted in 1979 and the Habitats Directive in 1992. Both directives see their core purpose in the designation of protection areas to create an EU-wide protection area network – the Natura 2000 network – for threatened species and habitats of Community interest.

Natura 2000

Icon Gebietsschutz

Designation of various kinds of protection areas is a key instrument in nature conservation and landscape management activities aimed at maintaining biodiversity. In specially designated areas, nature and landscape conservation is given priority over other types of use, the aim being to secure indigenous plants and animals and their habitats, and to comply with and implement national and international requirements designed to protect natural heritage.

Protected Areas

Habitat protection is a matter of particular importance for nature conservation. It is also a crucial instrument for species protection. Therefore habitat protection as well as the preservation of the diversity and characteristics of landscapes in Germany is a major objective of the Federal Nature Conservation Act.

Protecting Habitats and Landscapes

Icon Red Lists

Red lists are lists of animal and plant species, plant communities, habitats and habitat complexes that are either extinct, have disappeared or are endangered. These scientific reports document the threat status for a given area and assess the level of threat based on stock size and stock development.

Red Lists

Growth in renewable energy is a means of securing energy supplies for the future and preventing further global warming. But generating and using alternative sources of energy can lead to conflicts with nature and the environment. Nature conservation concerns therefore need to be taken into account to ensure the growth of renewable energy is sustainable and nature-friendly.

Renewable Energy

Rivers and Floodplains

Germany's has some 400,000 km of rivers and streams that together with their floodplains form the axes of a trans-regional ecological network. They are hotspots of biodiversity and fulfil a variety of ecosystem functions. Improving the ecological status of rivers and streams, lakes and groundwaters is a growing priority in water management. Protecting and restoring near-natural river floodplains is an important part of this. Numerous BfN projects serve to improve the underlying science and promote nationally significant model river and floodplain conservation measures.

Rivers and Floodplains

Icon Agro-Gentechnik

Ongoing biodiversity loss, in particular the loss of species and their populations, is caused by multiple factors. To combat this loss, state action that takes the various influencing causes into account, is required. The German Federal Nature Conservation Agency (BfN) works on the advancement and development of national and international species conservation law, in accordance with ecological and conservation principles.

Species conservation

Icon Sport & Tourismus

Intact nature and landscapes are the basis for tourism, sports and recreational activities. However, tourism, sports and nature conservation are not always compatible. Good information and best-practise examples are essential for conflict resolution. The German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation is working in the field nature conservation and tourism and sports. The Agency supports model projects in order to enhance sustainable and nature-sound tourism development and sports activities.

Tourism and Sports activities