German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)

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Economics for Nature Conservation


Economics for Nature Conservation aim to quantify the social and economic value of conserving and fostering the development of species, habitats and ecosystems. 
This is not solely about conserving nature as something of value in its own right, but also about the many other benefits that society and the economy derive from natural and near-natural ecosystems. Such ecosystem services include the use of near-natural landscape for recreation and tourism; reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by means such as peatland restauration and grassland conservation; flood retention in near-natural floodplains; prevention of erosion by small structural features such as hedges in farming countryside; pollination; avoidance of groundwater pollution by sustainable grassland management; soil conservation through organic farming; and the air purifying and climate regulating effects of urban greenspaces. 
Determining and reporting the value of these services and systematically integrating them into public and private sector decision making helps align economic, social and nature conservation goals and make nature conservation more effective.
Economics for Nature Conservation also investigate how the various legal and market instruments available for the implementation of nature conservation objectives can be applied as efficient and effective as possible for conserving and supporting the development of the natural environment. That means as economic as possible and with the lowest negative and highest positive impacts for other social objectives as possible. Specific areas of enquiry include:


  • The value – including the economic value – of nature conservation activities;
  • The social objectives additionally served by nature conservation - next to conserving biodiversity - (recreation, clean water, climate change mitigation, etc.) and the value of such additional benefits;
  • The positive (or negative) impacts of nature conservation activities or of damage to the natural environment on the economy and regional development;
  • How nature conservation objectives can be implemented most efficiently, i.e. at low cost to and with minimum other negative side-effects for the economy and society;
  • How far positive and negative incentives and market-based instruments can contribute in making the existing nature conservation toolkit more effective and efficient;
  • How far the value – including the economic value – of nature conservation activities or environment-friendly alternative land uses can be taken into account in prevailing planning instruments;
  • How business can be made more environment-friendly, what instruments are needed to this end and how can this best be achieved.

BfN carries out research, conferences and workshops on these topics and advises the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety on this basis on the further development of nature conservation policy.

Last Change: 20/08/2015

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