German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)


Large-Scale Conservation Projects

riparian zone

Germany’s national programme on Establishing and Securing Conservationally Important Components of Nature and Landscapes of National Importance (Errichtung und Sicherung schutzwürdiger Teile von Natur und Landschaft mit gesamtstaatlich repräsentativer Bedeutung) has existed since 1979. The programme is designed to promote nationally important landscapes with the two-fold aim of protecting national heritage and fulfilling obligations under international nature conservation law. It serves in maintaining natural landscapes for the longer term and in securing and developing cultural landscapes that provide outstanding habitats for protected animal and plant species.

This budget item was expanded in 1989 to include the Gewässerrandstreifenprogramm (riparian zone programme). The aim of the programme was to designate riparian zones measuring at least ten metres in width to improve the ecological status of watercourses and to promote watercourse dynamics to assist flood protection.

Criteria and Objectives

Cottongrass at water’s edge

Selection of large-scale conservation projects is based on criteria covering representativity, size, near-natural conditions, threat status and best-practice model potential. Large-scale nature conservation projects differ from other nature conservation activities on grounds of their complexity and the size of the area involved. The purpose of large-scale nature conservation areas is to minimise negative external influences that have an undesired impact on or even place in question protection measures adopted for small-scale protection areas.

The express aim of the national programme is to secure the core areas of projects as nature conservation areas before the project lifecycle expires. Some 1,000 km² of core project areas have since been designated as nature conservation areas (excluding areas given interim protection under court order). This represents 0.3 percent of Germany’s land surface. In exceptional, justified cases alternative protection measures may be used (such as contract conservation) to secure core areas.

Funding Measures

Funding is largely used to purchase land or enter into long-term leases, pay compensation and to cover the costs of management and development planning (including socio-economic studies and, where necessary, mediation), habitat-structuring measures, staffing and materials, project-related information activities and project evaluation. For large-scale nature conservation and riparian zone projects, the federal government assumes up to 75 percent of the overall costs. The German states (Länder) usually pick up 15 percent and project sponsors (district authorities, self-governing corporations set up by a group of local authorities) and registered associations the remaining 10 percent.

The projects are conducted in two phases: a maximum three-year planning phase and an implementation phase (following approval of the management and development plan).

Project outlines and the resulting (prior-approved) proposals can be submitted by post (where possible with a copy by e-mail to in triplicate, via the Länder ministries responsible for nature conservation, to BfN at the following address:

Bundesamt für Naturschutz
Referat "Planung, Koordination, Qualitätssicherung"
Konstantinstr. 110
53179 Bonn


If you have any further questions or require further information, please contact either by telephone (+49 (0)228 8491-1011) or by E-Mail

Last Change: 25/03/2021