German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)


Marine Monitoring

Nature conservation work requires knowledge about the condition of ecosystems and how they change. This knowledge is gathered by long-term systematic monitoring of the environment, species and habitats.

Marine monitoring provides important data

A good marine monitoring programme can quickly and reliably detect negative trends in marine biodiversity and take appropriate counteraction. Monitoring data can often be used to show how specific human activities have specific impacts on marine biodiversity.

The monitoring of marine habitat types and species required under the Habitats Directive, for example, produces data on the conservation status of benthic habitats and flora and fauna populations, their distribution and abundance, habitat quality, trends and threats. The objective is to assess conservation status according to set –
see criteria . Such assessments form the basis for any corrective action, the success of which is likewise measured using monitoring data.

For some conservation measures and programmes promoting ecosystem-friendly, sustainable use of the seas, success monitoring is done using indicators specially designed for the purpose. An example is the set of ecological quality objectives (EcoQOs) developed under OSPAR as status indicators for the system as a whole.

Federal and Länder responsibilities in Germany

Nature conservation in German coastal waters is the responsibility of the country’s coastal Länder. In the German Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) between 12 and 200 miles from the coastal baseline, sovereignty restrictions under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) mean that responsibility for marine nature conservation lies with the German Federal Government. This responsibility is assigned to the Federal Environment Ministry and the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN). Alongside other nature conservation obligations, a vital part of the work involved consists of monitoring and assessing the conservation status of protected species and habitats.

Generally, whoever is responsible for protection in a given territorial area also has management and monitoring obligations, without which it would not be possible to provide effective administration and control of protected areas.