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Progress on the conservation front

White-tailed eagles and peregrine falcons no longer appear on IUCN's Red List of threatened bird species in 2008. Other animal and plant species too are once again more numerous in Germany.

Overall, however, the situation is alarming. This is the conclusion of the report on the state of the environment, which the German Cabinet has now adopted in Berlin. The report lays out the successes and the continuing challenges in the field of conservation.

More space for conservation

Currently, 75 percent of biotopes in Germany are deemed to be endangered on the basis of the Red List published in 2006. This is why the protection and sustainable management of biological diversity is a special responsibility of the German government.

The National Biodiversity Strategy is a start. By 2020, for instance, two percent of the surface area of Germany is to be left as untouched nature. By the same date, five percent of the forested area too is to be allowed to develop naturally.

Germany has a particular responsibility for conserving certain plant and animal species, which are not found anywhere else. Beech forests, for instance, used to be Germany's most common ecosystem two thousand years ago. Today beech trees account for only 1.6 million hectares, or 14 percent of its forested area.

This is why it is important to preserve the remnants of beech forests. The German government will be actively supporting the nomination of the most valuable beech forests for approval as a UNESCO world natural heritage site. The process was initiated by the federal states of Brandenburg, Hesse, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Thuringia.

Less land for settlements and traffic

One key point in protecting the environment is to seal less land with asphalt, concrete, bitumen or other materials, which prevent air and water penetrating the soil.

This is why a total to date of 100,000 hectares of state-owned land have been transferred to environmental facilities free of charge for conservation purposes. They include land along what used to be the inner-German border, where the so-called Green Belt has been established.

The European Green Belt crosses the whole of Europe from the Barents Sea in the north to the Adriatic and the Black Sea in the south. It was able to develop along the line of the former iron Curtain, as a result of the prevailing historical circumstances.

All in all, it must be said that an extremely high percentage of land in Germany is used. Every day more than 100 hectares are harnessed for settlements and traffic. In the National Sustainability Strategy the government lays out the target of cutting this figure to 30 hectares by 2020.

Protecting biodiversity

Last year, the Federal Republic of Germany took over the presidency of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The ninth conference of parties held in May 2008 in Bonn marked the start of the German presidency.

At the conference, Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged that between 2009 and 2012 the German government would provide a contribution of 500 million euros. The funding is to be used for the international protection of forests and threatened ecosystems. As of 2013 it is planned to make an annual contribution of half a billion euros.

Another important strategic goal of the agreement is the so-called 2010 target. This stipulates that the ongoing anthropogenic loss of species diversity is to be significantly slowed by 2010.

With the report on the state of the environment the German government is honouring its commitment to issue a report on this topic at least once during each legislative period. The government published its last report in May 2005.

The report published by the Federal Environment Ministry takes stock of the state of the environment in Germany, and analyses it. It identifies prospects for protecting and sustainably managing biological diversity and presents the priorities of the conservation policy of the German government.

You will find a detailed presentation in the "Environmental Data" published by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation and the "Facts on the Environment" published by the Federal Environment Agency.

Further Information:
National Biodiversity Strategy
Billions for species protection
The UN Convention on Biological Diversity and the Biodiversity Conference in Bonn
German Press and Information Office
Dorotheenstr. 84
D-10117 Berlin
Tel.: 03018 272 - 0
Fax: 03018 272 - 2555

| German Federal Government
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