German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)


Advice - Providing scientific expertise for sustainable policy

Photo: Marco Barnebeck /  Advice - Climate change is particularly noticeable in the high Alps.


Furnishing the science to underpin policy and administrative decisions is one of BfN’s central tasks. Doing so requires in-depth knowledge of the complex interrelationships in the natural environment and of the short and long-term effects of human activities on ecosystems. It also calls for a thorough grasp of the available options, implementation choices and social and policy needs so that expertise can be provided at the right place in the right form.

Looking to the future is especially important in this regard, because new issues and challenges emerging all the time require a timely response based on scientifically dependable data and knowledge. Topical examples include climate change – which poses huge problems not just for humanity, but for entire regions and much of life on earth – and the sustainable use of renewable energy.

The Federal Agency for Nature Conservation provides the German government – and first and foremost the German Environment Ministry – with the scientific basis for decisions and advice on all aspects of national and international nature conservation, and identifies new areas where policy choices need to be made. BfN performs a key knowledge transfer function for nature conservation by preparing scientific knowledge and rendering it suitable for practical application. As well as providing support for policy-making at national level, the Agency also works in close cooperation with authorities in each of Germany’s sixteen states. One aim here is to ensure that approaches and methods developed by BfN – for example with regard to landscape planning, species conservation and protected areas – are applied uniformly and comparably nationwide.

Close cooperation with nature conservation NGOs

When using renewable energy, care must be taken to avoid adverse impacts on natural systems, the landscape and biodiversity, and to exploit positive impacts to the full.
Photo: Kathrin Ammermann
Photo: Kathrin Ammermann - Photovoltaic system

BfN attaches special importance to close cooperation with nature conservation NGOs. It also maintains ongoing contact with business and numerous associations – for example representing agriculture and forestry, sports and tourism – to encourage and foster the ongoing development of forms of cooperation on the sustainable use of the natural environment. The Agency is additionally in constant academic exchange with universities and other research establishments.

Nature knows no boundaries. Like other agencies, BfN is increasingly involved in international cooperation.
View of Earth from space

Internationally, BfN is actively involved in various scientific networks and supports the German government in meeting the country’s obligations under related international agreements. These include:

  • The Convention on Biological Diversity
  • The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)
  • The Natura 2000 system of protected areas in Europe
  • The UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme

Providing scientific expertise for sustainable policy

Deutscher Bundestag
Photo: Thomas Karisch
View in German "Bundestag"
Nationalparkarchiv Berchtesgaden
At regular intervals, BfN publishes the German Red Lists of endangered plants, animals (such as the lynx pictured here) and habitat types. Photo: H.-W. Grömping
Nature conservation must be made part of everyday life – including in sports and recreational activities. Photo: Michael Pütsch (BfN)
Paddlers on the river

Last Change: 01/01/2010