German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)


Monitoring and Indicators in Nature Conservation

Monitoring and indicators in nature conservation

Any assessment of the condition and development of nature and the landscape needs up-to-date, scientifically reliable information. Environmental monitoring aims to meet this information need and to present data so that it can be used effectively in nature and landscape conservation.

Monitoring is enshrined as a federal and Länder responsibility in the Federal Nature Conservation Act (BNatSChG, section 6). Section 6 (2) sets down the purpose of monitoring: “Such monitoring shall serve the purpose of focussed, ongoing determination, description and assessment of the condition of nature and landscape, of changes in their condition and of the reasons for, and consequences of, such changes.”

There are other monitoring obligations under EU directives (the Habitats Directive and the Birds Directive), international conventions (Convention on Biological Diversity) and Germany’s Genetic Engineering Act (Gentechnikgesetz).

Monitoring for nature conservation can be split thematically into monitoring of the general landscape and monitoring of areas of conservation value. Monitoring can also be divided by subject into monitoring of species, habitats and landscapes.
Monitoring for harmful environmental impacts of genetically modified organisms serves as an early warning system, allowing rapid response and impact minimisation in case of need.

Monitoring results on each issue are aggregated into indicators that can be used in official and policy decision making (e.g. indicators for the National Sustainability Strategy). The National Strategy on Biological Diversity adopted by the Federal Government in 2007 includes 19 indicators. These track progress towards the targets laid down in the strategy. Progress on the indicators and the degree of target attainment is reported on once every four years.

Specific monitoring and indicator issues covered by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) include:

Last Change: 29/03/2021