German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)

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The Utilisation of Nature

Birds-eye view of a landscape in Germany, showing a village, arable fields, several pastures, woodland and a river. (Picture: Wilfried Löderbusch/piclease)

Every form of land use has an impact on nature and biodiversity. For some species, land use can lead to population decline or extinction. Conversely, many species are well adapted to or even benefit from human use of the land.


The type and intensity of farming are key in determining whether animal and plant species can be retained in agricultural countryside.


Leafy branches of a beech tree. (Picture: Barbara Engels, BfN)

Forests cover nearly a third of the German land surface. The majority are coniferous. Without human intervention, however, deciduous and mixed forest stands would dominate as the natural forest type.


Fishing nets and coiled ropes with fishing boats in the background. (Picture: Hans-Gerd Paulus/piclease)

The seas are among the most species-rich and at the same time the most endangered of the world's ecosystems. Findings with regard to the consequences of global overfishing and the impacts of waste, pollution and excess nutrients on the seas, marine habitats and marine species are generally well known.


Barges on a river. (Picture: Christof Martin/piclease)

Rivers and lakes are subject to human use in many different ways and in some cases are significantly altered as a result. River straightening, weirs and dams, inland fisheries and inland navigation destroy structural variety and habitats, causing the decline of animal and plant species that depend on them.


The Federal Government has set ambitious goals for the expansion of renewable energy. The proportion of electricity and motor fuel consumption accounted for by renewable energy sources is to increase substantially.


A beach with dunes, wicker beach chairs and people with the sea in the background. (Picture: Falk Herrmann/piclease)

The tourism sector depends like hardly any other on an attractive natural environment. Yet in tourism hotspots especially, tourism is also a cause of damage to nature and the environment.


Birds-eye view of a residential area with rows of houses and greenery. (Picture: Christof Martin/piclease)

Three-quarters of the German population now live in urban conurbations. The value of seminatural green urban spaces for health and quality of life is well established. It is also important for people in urban areas to be able to experience nature in the immediate surroundings of where they live.

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