Nature conservation areas in Germany

Essay, 2018
11 Pages, Grade: 1,0



1 Introduction

2 Definitions and types
2.1 National Park
2.2 Biosphere reserves
2.3 Nature parks
2.4 Protected landscapes
2.5 Natural reserves
2.6 Natura 2000
2.7 National nature heritage
2.8 Green Belt

3 Acceptance and cooperation

4 Conclusion



1 Introduction

Biodiversity loss is one of many problems of global climate change. The extinction rates are getting close to the last mass extinction numbers. Many species are already en- dangered or in immediate danger of extinction. To prevent more species from that fate conservation areas with limited or close to no human influence are necessary. It is im- portant to conserve habitats and biotopes for animals and plants even before they are endangered.

Germany is a quite densely populated country and most of the land surface is used for agricultural purpose. Daily an area of 100 hectares is repurposed for the building of new settlements and means of communication. To stop this trend nature conservation and preservation of landscapes needs to be independent from economic growth (VDN 2009: 22). Politics need to intervene in this conflict of land use in favour of flora and fauna of the country. Nature conservation areas are helpful to secure habitats and prevent repur- posing or destruction of important living environments.

In this paper the distinct types of conservation areas are presented shortly and in a second step, efforts for acceptance and cooperation are depicted.

2 Definitions and types

Conservation areas in Europe can be classified into six categories according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. All six catego- ries contain a different set of requirements to be fulfilled in the conserved area (IUCN 2008: 13-23):

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

These categories share common features but also have unique requirements on their own to be respected only in that specific area (see Appendix I).

In Germany the three most relevant formal conservation areas are kept under the umbrella term National Nature Landscapes which includes national parks, biosphere re- serves and nature parks. These contain not only nature landscapes but also cultural land- scapes but are mostly referred to as nature landscapes. Formal conservation areas are based on the requirements set by the IUCN and are governed by either the federal state or by national law in Germany. The formal and official status of a conservation area is granted by the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (Bundesamt für Na- turschutz; BfN) (Tobias 2018: 27).

2.1 National Park

National parks are in general big conservation areas which haven’t been greatly influenced or altered through human intervention or which are designated to develop without greater human influence in the future. The 16 existing national parks in Germany cover a total are of only 0,6% of the land surface (ib.: 27).

2.2 Biosphere reserves

Biosphere reserves are representing broad German landscapes which “[…] are con- sisting of a network of nature conservation and landscape conservation areas, serve the preservation, development and restoration of the typical biological variety on site and offer a field for experimentation for the exemplarily development and testing of natural resources in especially indulgent economic system.” (ib.: 31)1 Biosphere reserves aim to test the balanced connection between the protection of natural resources and economic use and development (EUROPARC 2005: 20).

Nearly two Mio hectares are covered which equates to 3,7% of German land sur- face. 15 out of the 17 existing reserves are UNESCO biosphere reserves and three areas are pending to be accepted as such (Tobias 2018: 31). UNESCO sets several A and B criteria to be complied by the conservation are to be added to the catalogue. One of the most important one is the representation of typical landscapes and habitats which are not yet represented adequately. With that criteria low mountain ranges will most likely not be accepted as future UNESCO biosphere reserves, as they are already well presented. Another criterium is the minimum size of 30.000 hectares and three zones: core zone (without utilization, > 3%), caring zone (> 10%) and development zone (> 50%). Fur- thermore there must be developed a framework for future development and a functioning administration maintaining the reserve at least three years after UNESCO recognition (ib.: 31). The UNESCO controls the quality of the biosphere reserves and their compli- ance to the requirements by evaluating them every ten years (ib.: 42).

2.3 Nature parks

Like biosphere reserves nature parks are also consisting of a network of nature con- servation and landscape conservation areas but they are also prominently designated to serve touristic activities and recreational purposes (ib.: 34). Additionally, they serve the preservation and recreation of a high species and biotope diversity and also try to bring nature conservation and sustainable land use together.

103 nature parks exist in Germany, covering a surface of nearly 10 Mio hectares, respectively 27,9% of the German land surface (ib.: 35).

In the P etersberg programme of 2006 various nature conservation institutions and societies pinned down important tasks and functions to be applied by all nature parks. Broadly they cover: protection, development and maintaining of nature; promotion of selling regional products; conservation of natural resources; information and education for the development of a broad nature protection awareness (VDN 2009: 11).

2.4 Protected landscapes

The landscape is defined through variety, beauty and singularity. These character- istics must be preserved, developed and recreated in their functionality and productivity. In addition, they should serve the recreational function for humans. 8500 protected land- scapes in Germany cover over 10 Mio hectares, respectively nearly 30%. Agricultural use and forestry are allowed in all protected landscapes and them being sustainable is not mandatory and therefore not common (Tobias 2018: 36-37).

2.5 Natural reserves

Natural reserves aim to preserve, develop and as far as possible recreate biotopes and their respective flora and fauna. 8600 natural reserves exist in Germany and their area could be enlarged by 30% from 3,9% in 2004 (ib.: 37).

2.6 Natura 2000

Connecting the Flora-fauna-habitat directive and the Birds directive the Natura 2000 areas exist in all 28 member states of the European Union. “231 types of habitats […] and around 1000 species […] as well as 193 species of the Birds directive are desig- nated to be of European interest and therefore to be protected by the countries.” (ib.: 37)2 The European Union needs to be informed about the quality of the area every six years (ib.: 37).

With over 4500 Flora-fauna-habitat areas and nearly 750 bird reservoirs, the Natura 2000 areas cover more than 15% of German land surface. Natura 2000 areas can overlap with other conservation areas and mostly do with natural reserves. The biggest areas cov- ered by Natura 2000 areas are close to the North and Baltic sea (ib.: 37).

2 .7 National nature heritage

Mostly located on former military areas or mining sites the national nature heritage aims to protect and preserve outstanding, characteristic German landscapes for which Germany bears international and national responsibility. Decisive for the implementation of this type of conservation area was the government’s decision to not give these areas to private investors, but to transfer them to the German Federal Foundation Nature and other nature protection organisations. 156000 hectares of land surface are national nature heritage, mostly located in the eastern part of Germany and mainly designated to turn into wilderness without human intervention (BfN 2016: 112).

2 .8 Green Belt

A special kind of turning former military areas into conservation area is the Green Belt. It connects biotopes across Europe along the former Iron Curtain from the northern sea down to the Mediterranean area towards the Black sea (BUND 2018: 11).

63,3% of the area of the 1400 km long Green Belt in Germany are inheriting en- dangered biotopes since 2012 and are therefore listed on the Red lists of IUCN. 1.200 endangered animal and plant species are known to live in this area. But until today only about two thirds of the Green Belt are official nature conservation areas (BfN w.y.).


1 own translation. German original: „[…] bestehen aus einem Verbund von Naturschutz- und Landschafts- schutzgebieten, dienen der Erhaltung, Entwicklung und Wiederherstellung der dort typischen biologischen Vielfalt und bieten ein Experimentierfeld für die beispielhafte Entwicklung und Erprobung von die Natur- güter besonders schonenden Wirtschaftsweisen.“

2 own translation. German original: “Darin sind 231 Lebensraumtypen […] und rund 1.000 Arten […] sowie 193 Arten der Vogelschutzrichtlinie benannt, die von europäischem Interesse sind und deshalb von den Ländern geschützt werden sollen.“

Excerpt out of 11 pages


Nature conservation areas in Germany
Eötvös Loránd Tudományegytem
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
nature areas, nature parks, germany, grünes band, conservation area
Quote paper
Elisabeth Wagener (Author), 2018, Nature conservation areas in Germany, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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