German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)


Enforcement - Acting for biodiversity and nature conservation

Enforcement - CITES governs trade in endangered species, including those living in the wild.


Germany and its constituent states (Länder) have signed a wide range of international nature conservation agreements. They have an obligation to transpose those agreements into national law and put their provisions into practice on an ongoing basis. For some agreements, BfN is the national enforcement agency with specific responsibility for their implementation in Germany.

BfN grants import and export permits for protected species and products derived from them (CITES)

Many animal and plant species are threatened by taking from the wild. The international community responded to this as early as 1973 with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). As the German enforcement agency for CITES, BfN grants import and export permits for protected species and products derived from them. BfN also develops the scientific basis for decisions in this regard and for the ongoing adaptation and refinement of species conservation law in line with changing needs.

Further information on imports and exports of protected animal and plant species: Phone +49 (0)228 8491-13 11


Enforcement agency responsible for nature conservation in the North Sea and Baltic Sea Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)

In the approval process for offshore wind farms, BfN gives its expert opinion on their impact on the marine environment. Photo: Prof. Dr. Kühn, Stuttgart
Windmills in the sea

BfN is the enforcement agency responsible for nature conservation in the North Sea and Baltic Sea Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) between 12 and 200 nautical miles from the coast. The Agency is responsible for selection and management of Natura 2000 sites (protected sites under the EU Birds Directive and Habitats Directive) and is involved in the approval process for activities affecting them.

Key criteria in selecting marine Natura 2000 sites are the presence and distribution of specific seabird, marine mammal and fish species and of particularly valuable, internationally important sandbank and reef habitats. Site designation serves to protect these special and endangered habitats and species. In total, Natura 2000 sites make up 31.49 percent (1,038,958.08 ha) of the German EEZ. Germany consequently has a leading role in Europe in this regard and plays an important part in international marine nature conservation.

Habitat Mare

Agricultural genetic engineering

The deliberate release of genetically modified crops into the environment like the maize and potatoes shown here requires careful investigation. Photo: Chris /
Flourishing cornfield

In agricultural genetic engineering , BfN is involved in the approval of applications for the release and placing on the market of genetically modified plants, animals and micro-organisms. This work entails bringing attention to potential environmental impacts and weighing the risks. BfN also provides the scientific foundations for and organises the monitoring of potential impacts of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on nature and the environment.

The key to appraising the risks posed by GMOs consists of their interactions with other living organisms and hence with all biota. Like other agencies, BfN is bound by the precautionary principle when it comes to a technology whose full effects are not yet known.


Acting for biodiversity and nature conservation

Photo: Naturfoto Pretscher
Photo: Marcus Gloger, Bonn
Tiger skin
Porpoise - photo: Florian Graner
Impressions of the Sea: Porpoise
Crab - photo: Krause & Hübner, BfN
Impressions of the Sea: Crab
Test facility release of genetically modified plants

Last Change: 14/07/2016