To report on progress to the EU 2020 biodiversity strategy, the European Commission extracted relevant information from the EU Member States’ 5th national reports to the CBD. Of the 5 countries which had not finalized their national reports at the time of the synthesis (26th of August 2015), Greece, Malta, Portugal and Lithuania provided information to be included in the synthesis.

The 5th national reports were examined, and relevant information on selected actions under Targets 1-6 of the EU biodiversity strategy was directly copied. Thus, the information presented here is in the original language and wording of the 5th national reports.

The focus was on information that is particular to the respective Member State rather than referencing EU wide information. In addition, only information that is not directly reported to the European Commission by Member States was retrieved from the reports. Each Member State had the opportunity to review the synthesis of its report and to provide additional input. For more information, please view here. The 5th national report for Germany can be downloaded here.

In addition to the country synthesis which is shown below, Germany provided information on the cross-linkages between their national strategy and the European and global biodiversity targets.

EU target 1

Fully implement the Birds and Habitats Directives

(Please note that information from Member States in relation to Action 1a is supplied to the European Commission via other reports. To avoid duplication of reporting, information relating to Action 1a has not been included in this report)

Action 1c: Natura 2000 (and other protected areas)

A well functioning management for all major protected areas and notified Natura 2000 areas is an important foundation for safeguarding the habitat diversity typical of the natural region and for conserving and restoring a favourable conservation status. The efforts to conserve and develop protected areas frequently involve restrictions on use. To ensure continued acceptance of nature conservation measures by society, especially among those who own or manage land, there is a need for a well functioning management system drawn up in close cooperation with local users to cater not only for users' interests, but also for those of nature conservation.

Management or maintenance and development plans also exist for many of the more than 5000 Natura 2000 areas, and others are in preparation. The necessary maintenance and development measures are being implemented in many areas, e.g. as part of agro-environmental measures.

The ten Natura 2000 areas in the EEZ are managed by the federal authorities. Management plans setting out the necessary conservation measures are currently being drawn up for these areas.

For the German Natura 2000 areas in marine waters it is crucial that fishery activities be designed to be compatible with the protection objectives in these areas. Protected area ordinances and appropriate management plans are under development for the Natura 2000 areas in the Exclusive Economic Zone.

To achieve a significant improvement in the conservation status of all Habitats Directive habitat types, there is a general need to continue the process of management planning and implementation for Natura 2000, while taking account of specific concerns and findings from scientific and practical sources.

EU target 2

Maintain and restore ecosystems and their services

(Part III of the fifth national report simply cross references to other parts of the report. Only cross links to Target 2 are presented here due to time limitations)

Action 6a & 6b: Ecosystem restoration and green infrastructure

The importance of ecosystem services is discussed at various points in the National Biodiversity Strategy from 2007; some of them are covered in the 5NR:

  • building up a network of connected biotopes; Federal Defragmentation Programme (p. 60, p. 108/109)
  • peatlands (p. 71)
  • Green Strips along the former Iron Curtain (p. 106)

Data link:

EU target 3

Increase the contribution of agriculture and forestry to maintaining and enhancing biodiversity

(Part III of the fifth national report simply cross references to other parts of the report. Only cross links to Target 3 are presented here due to time limitations)

In 2010 the area covered by farmland in Germany totalled 18.7 million ha (52.3%); the majority of this consisted of arable land with a share of 11.8 million ha and permanent pasture with a share of 4.7 million ha. Agriculture, with more than half the total area, is the most important form of land use in Germany. In 2010 the area covered by organic farming operations accounted for 5.9 per cent of total farmland.The share of total farmland accounted for by organic farming shows a continuous increase from 1.6% in 1994 to 5.9% in 2010, as can be seen from the indicator "Organic farming" (see Chapter E 2). In 2010 the area under organic farming increased by 4.6 per cent on the year before. If the trend remains unchanged, it will take many years to achieve the target of increasing the organic farming share to 20 per cent of total farmland.In November 2007 the German Ministry of Agriculture (Bundesministerium für Ernährung, Landwirtschaft und Verbraucherschutz) put forward an agrobiodiversity strategy under the title “Conservation of Agricultural Biodiversity, Development and Sustainable Use of its Potentials in Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries”.it contributes to more eco-friendly agriculture and forestry and the conservation of genetic resources in agriculture. It contributes to more eco-friendly agriculture and forestry and the conservation of genetic resources in agriculture. At the same time, implementation of the following measures and activities under this strategy is to be expedited to achieve the objectives of the Agrobiodiversity Strategy:

  • Further development of agrarian use systems, partly by gearing agroenvironmental measures to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity
  • Promotion of set-aside or buffer strips, e.g. managed fallow strips with ecological greening, green protective strips to prevent erosion, extensive pasture, organic farming and genetic resources
  • Development of new instruments to compensate for encroachments on or impairment of nature and landscape, in order to upgrade ecosystems, enrich their (agro)biodiversity and reduce land use conflicts
  • Expansion of the agrobiodiversity research network, among other things in the interests of long-term conservation and innovative use of genetic resources
  • Communication strategy on agrobiodiversity that also includes use and consumer aspects.

In September 2011 the German Government adopted the Forest Strategy 2020 put forward by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture. The Forest Strategy 2020 seeks to develop an appropriate, viable balance between the growing demands on forests and their sustainable functioning that will meet future requirements. In nine action areas (including climate change, ownership, resources, biodiversity, silviculture, hunting, recreation, research) the strategy sets out challenges and opportunities, analyses possible conflicts of objectives, and offers appropriate solutions.

Conservation and sustainable use of agrobiodiversity (BMEL)

The Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) considers it has a special responsibility for the conservation and sustainable use of agrobiodiversity and genetic resources, which among other things provide the basis for agriculture, forestry, fisheries and the food industry. Since 2005, therefore, the BMEL has been assisting model and demonstration projects in the field of food and innovative, sustainable use of biodiversity in agriculture, forestry, fisheries and the food industry, and also inventories and non-scientific surveys in the field of biological diversity. Moreover, the goals of the National Strategy on Biological Diversity are supported by other BMEL programmes, and especially, for example, the “Federal programme for organic farming and other forms of sustainable agriculture” (BÖLN).

Target 3b: Forestry

57 per cent of Germany's forests are owned by the public sector (federal: 4%, Länder: 29%, municipalities: 20%, trustee forest: 4%).

With the introduction of sustainable forestry combined with strict legislation on forests, there has since been a marked increase in the area under forest in Germany. About 77 per cent of the forests in Germany stand on land which has been continuously under forest for at least 200 years. Today about one third of Germany's land area (11.1 million ha) consists of forest. Compared with other forms of land use, forest management is extensive, which supports the conservation and development of forest-typical biological diversity. On the whole, the ecological status of forest stands in Germany has improved in recent decades, mainly as a result of near-natural forest management, increased conversion of spruce monocultures to mixed deciduous forest, and targeted assistance measures (e.g. contract-based nature conservation). This has also been supported by a growing understanding of ecosystem relationships and increasing awareness of the importance of biological diversity among politicians, forest owners and the public.

In recent decades Germany has made successful progress with establishing varied and stable mixed forests with tree species endemic to the location. Although the share of conifers in old stands is still around 62 per cent, in new stands it is only about 29 per cent. About 80 per cent of young stands are the result of natural rejuvenation. The proportion of dead wood, an indicator of the nature conservation quality of forests, has increased by 19 per cent to 14.7 m3/ha in the last six years – with the aid of dead wood programmes for targeted biotope and habitat maintenance.

Certification is a voluntary undertaking on the part of forestry operations to go beyond the minimum legal requirements and comply with additional minimum standards in environmental, economic and social fields. In Germany there are currently three certification systems that play a part in forest management: PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes), FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and “Naturland”. As shown by the “Sustainably forestry” indicator, at the end of 2011 some 70% of Germany's forest area was certified under PEFC and about 5% under FSC (incl. approx. 0.5% Naturland). The total figure is close to the target figure of 80 per cent.

When it comes to the conservation and development of forests as habitats for animal and plant species, the German forestry sector has many synergies with the goals of nature conservation, especially if the principles of near-natural forest management are observed. As a rule, measures to conserve and protect biological diversity are integrated in forest use, in other words there is basically no division into 100% economic forests and 100% protected forests. The Forest Strategy 2020 envisages further improvements in the already high level of biological diversity in forests in line with the targets of the National Strategy on Biological Diversity, e.g. by leaving areas unmanaged, increasing the percentage of dead wood, creating more small cells of natural forest, and implementing and networking Natura 2000 areas in forests. Forests owned by the public sector, and especially state forests, can play a model role here. In recent years a total of around 100,000 hectares of federal land have been transferred to the Länder and nature conservation associations and foundations as National Natural Heritage. Preparations have been made for transferring a further 25,000 hectares. Two thirds of the natural heritage areas consist of forest.

No precise figures are yet available on the percentage area with natural forest development. It is therefore impossible at present to state the extent to which the target in the National Strategy on Biological Diversity of increasing the percentage of forests with natural forest development to 5 per cent has been achieved. The proportion of forest areas certified to high ecological standards (PEFC, FSC) has steadily grown. What matters now is to raise public awareness of the importance of certified forest stands.

Action 8a: Environmental public goods in the CAP and GAEC cross-compliance

The voluntary agro-environmental programmes of the Lander, which offer farmers agro-environmental measures and incentives to maintain or reintroduce extensive forms of farming, are of direct importance for the conservation and development of biological diversity. The programmes can be co-financed by EU funds under the second pillar of the Common Agricultural Policy (EAFRD – European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development), and also to some extent at national level by federal funds under the Joint Agreement on Improving Agricultural Structures and Coastal Protection (GAK). The area receiving assistance was around 5.4 million hectares in 2010, which was almost as high as the previous record level of 5.5 million ha in 1997. At the same time assistance funds rose again slightly to €577 million in 2010.

EU target 4

Ensure the sustainable use of fisheries resources and ensuring good environmental status of the marine environment

Action 13a: Fish stock management

Despite the size of the seas, their resources are limited, as is their capacity to absorb human influences. Increasing use of the seas, climate change and land-based pollution have already caused major changes in the natural dynamics and the status of the ecosystems in our seas. These factors also present threats to the diversity of species and habitats. According to the 2006 Red List of endangered biotope types, 133 of the 153 marine biotope types in the German North Sea and Baltic Sea (87%) are endangered to a greater or lesser extent. When it comes to the management of stocks, a large number of commercially used fish stocks are found to have been overfished for many years. The yardstick here is the “maximum sustainable yield” (MSY), i.e. the quantity of fish that can be caught on a long-term basis without endangering the fish populations.

In 2012 an assessment of the stock situation in the North-East Atlantic was only possible for about 35 per cent of stocks. This low percentage applies to the whole of Europe. In most cases this is due to lack of catch information, incomplete surveys or faulty sampling. Of the 38 stocks that it was possible to assess in the North East Atlantic and adjacent waters in 2012, the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) rated 18 as overfished, and the remaining 20 as sustainably fished. This means the positive trend of recent years in the North East Atlantic has been maintained: in the third of stocks that were assessed, the share of non-sustainably fished stocks fell from 94% (2005) to 47% (2012).

In the Baltic Sea, according to the Johann Heinrich von Thunen Institute (vTI), 4 out of 14 known commercially used fish stocks were overfished, 5 stocks were sustainably fished, and no assessment was possible for 5 stocks. In the Mediterranean Sea, some 80 per cent of stocks are overfished.

With regard to the NBS target of achieving good environmental status for marine waters by 2021, substantial progress has already been achieved in the North Sea and Baltic Sea on reducing inputs of nutrients and hazardous substances. There has also been a reduction in pollution resulting from gas and oil production. Despite the input reductions already achieved, however, it is still not possible to give the “all clear” with regard to pollutant loads and impacts. In future greater attention is also to be paid to preventing oil pollution from exploration wells.

Action 14b: Adverse impacts on fish stocks, species, habitats and ecosystems

Further progress has also been made with implementing integrated coastal zone management (ICZM) since the adoption of the National ICZM Strategy in 2006. The aim of ICZM is to help develop and maintain the coastal region as an ecologically intact and economically flourishing habitat. A wide variety of activities undertaken in the coastal Lander and at federal level show that applying the ICZM approach to concrete plans or projects can help to avoid, reduce or find un-bureaucratic solutions to conflicts by means of timely informal participation (National ICZM Report of March 2011).

Data link:

EU target 5

Combat Invasive Alien Species

Relates to Germany's NBS target: Prevent the genetic diversity of wild fauna and flora from being adulterated by the introduction and propagation of non-endemic animal and plant species.

Data link:

EU target 6

Help avert global biodiversity loss

Action 18a: Resources for global biodiversity conservation

Germany provided an additional 500 million EUR for the period 2009 to 2012 and will provide a regular annual sum of 500 million EUR from 2013 onwards for the conservation of forests and other ecosystems around the world - according to the announcement of Chancellor Merkel at the 9th COP of CBD.

Data link:

Page 6 (last paragraph), Part IV, Page 116, 117

Action 20: Access to genetic resources and sharing of benefits

Germany and the EU signed the Protocol in July 2011 and are now working on its implementation and ratification. The process of ratifying, fleshing out and implementing this protocol has started.

Data link:

Part II, Section 6.4, Page 100