German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)


Activities of the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation

Climate change-related activities by the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) will focus in the next few years on two areas: Adaptation of nature conservation to climate change, and the contribution to be made by nature conservation in adapting to and mitigating climate change.
The sheer scale of the changes we face is already making itself felt in mainstream nature conservation activities. The climate change observed to date and projected for the future calls traditional nature conservation approaches into question. Existing nature conservation tools and strategies were not conceived with such rapidly changing natural conditions in mind. One issue of special importance is protected areas policy, which in conditions of rapid climate change would soon run up against its limitations if targets and target species were to be kept static. Precise monitoring, comprising scientific analysis both of changing environmental conditions and of ecosystem adaptations and changes, will be vital to the design and development of potential management responses. Due to uncertainties in forecasting, many protected areas will go over in future to dynamic management and development plans, applying what is known as adaptive management. Impacts of decisions must be subject to regular monitoring and mechanisms for adaptation to unforeseen developments and findings must be incorporated in planning from the outset.

Work on these and other issues will focus on the following:

1. Enhancing species and ecosystem adaptability by providing relevant actors with support in matters relating to climate change when developing ecological networks.

2. Creating sound data resources as a basis for conservation and policy decisions, including analysis of emerging changes in biodiversity, assistance in forecasting, risk assessment for new technologies, and documentation and cataloguing of national and international subject literature in BfN’s central literature database (

3. Working to ensure that climate change mitigation and adaptation activities, both nationally and internationally, are compatible with nature conservation objectives.


  • By supporting activities under the Convention on Biological Diversity to integrate biodiversity conservation issues in the implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol (specifically with regard to guidelines on counting activities to enhance carbon sequestration in ecosystems under the Clean Development Mechanism and in national greenhouse gas inventories).
  • By assessing the nature conservation aspects of the criteria for EU emissions trading approval of climate change projects in which nature conservation issues are involved.
  • By taking part in coordination of the German negotiating position in relevant international processes.


  • By working to ensure that the use of renewable energy conforms with nature conservation objectives (nature conservation concerns taken into account in site selection and system design). It is necessary to strategically enhance the importance of nature conservation methods in these activities.
  • By analysing developments in land use change and adaptation (including with reference to future scenarios) and by formulating corresponding nature conservation positions so that these can be brought into the national and international debate at an early stage.

4. Using and making known the possibilities for mutual reinforcement between nature conservation, climate change mitigation and adaptation:

  • By supporting international activities to conserve forests and peatlands, to establish large networked areas where nature is left to develop undisturbed, and to systematically protect the remaining near-natural ecosystems that serve as carbon sinks in Germany.
  • By more closely linking climate change issues into discussions towards a forest convention or forest protocol under the Convention on Biological Diversity
  • By supporting forms of land management that further conservation objectives and promote humus formation and hence carbon sequestration or reduce greenhouse gas emissions (both within Germany and in bilateral and multilateral international projects).
  • By supporting activities by the German states and German municipalities to reduce ‘enforced’ mobility in tourism, recreation and sports by securing recreation spaces close to urban areas, and generally to reduce motor traffic with urban planning that is economical on space while using greenery to create pleasant residential surroundings.
  • By funding model projects that exploit synergies between nature conservation objectives and greater use of renewable energy (for example by using cuttings and mowings as fuel or by cultivating energy crops in a way that also promotes biodiversity).
  • By promoting model projects for integrated coastal, river floodplain and flood protection.

5. Promoting the exchange of information and experience with experts and relevant organisations nationally and internationally, and setting up networks to make available, disseminate and harmonise validated conservation data, for example in the German PortalU® environment portal. Distributed geodata is increasingly important to such efforts. Nature conservation geodata are a major resource used in the German government’s GeoPortal (

6. Creating public awareness of the link between biodiversity and climate change. Despite the obvious reciprocal linkages, it is important to distinguish here from the ‘general’ climate change debate so as to highlight the specific concerns of BfN. It is necessary to give greater publicity to the dangers to biodiversity and the resulting hardships for human society, and also to how nature conservation can positively help in climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Alongside targeted activities in the areas mentioned, BfN also regards biodiversity and climate change as cross-cutting issues. It is not possible to determine once and for all a specific set of measures needed to adapt to climate change. Instead, the action necessary must be developed on a continuous basis by taking the issues into account in all areas of nature conservation, where necessary with the aid of studies and model projects.

A German-language overview of the subject is provided in ‘Biologische Vielfalt und Klimawandel – Gefahren, Chancen, Handlungsoptionen’ (‘Biodiversity and Climate Change: Dangers, Opportunities and Options for Action’) in the BfN-Skripten publication series ( BfN-Skripten 148, 2006, pdf-Datei (220 KB)). Much of the content of these pages originated in this publication.

Last Change: 23/02/2021