Providing information and data to underpin policy decisions is one of our central tasks. The Federal Agency for Nature Conservation provides the Federal Government with advice on all questions of national and international nature conservation and identifies new policy action areas.
As an independent higher federal authority, we work closely with nature conservation authorities in each of Germany’s sixteen Länders. We provide approaches and methods in fields such as landscape planning, species conservation and protected areas and advise on their implementation.
Internationally, our staff are involved in various scientific networks and support the Federal Government in meeting obligations under international and European Union law, such as under the Convention on Biological Diversity and the EU nature directives.
BfN funds and supports projects to preserve valuable natural and cultural landscapes, promote species conservation or implement innovative nature conservation ideas.
Through close contact with regional and local institutions and stakeholders, such projects ensure that local interests are taken into account. The knowledge and experience gained in them about the state of nature and about people’s needs provide key impetus to the theory and practice of nature conservation.
In order to fulfill our advisory and administrative mandate in the best possible manner, we conduct research of our own and also award research contracts to third parties.
BfN’s research covers complex questions ranging from conventional species and habitat conservation to integrating nature conservation into agricultural and forestry and the study of economic and social issues. Research findings are incorporated into the Federal Government’s nature conservation policies. Conversely, government requests for policy advice lead us to identify areas for further research.
The research needs of the Federal Environment Ministry are documented in an annual departmental research plan (REFOPLAN).
BfN provides information for experts and raises public awareness of nature conservation issues by way of brochures, leaflets, websites, posters, exhibitions and events.
BfN’s information output is intended both for experts in all areas of nature conservation and for the general public.
Publication series in which we disseminate important research and work results include ‘BfN-Schriften’ and ‘Naturschutz und Biologische Vielfalt’ (‘Nature Conservation and Biodiversity’). The latter series includes the German national Red Lists of endangered species. In addition, our journal ‘Natur und Landschaft’ (‘Nature and the Landscape’) is published twelve times a year, featuring peer-reviewed scientific articles and topical features on nature conservation and landscape management.
With some 151,000 media units and over 620 subscribed journals, the BfN library in Bonn and Leipzig is one of the largest nature conservation libraries in Europe. Our Documentation Division collates this literature in an online database, www.dnl-online.de. This is constantly updated and contains over 235,000 references.
Data makes it possible to describe the state of nature and as such provides an important resource for BfN’s work. Our data repositories are made available to the public – where possible for unrestricted use as open data – and presented in the form of geodata and geoservices in interactive map applications, map views and tables.
BfN maintains its own conference centre, the International Academy for Nature Conservation on the Isle of Vilm, near Rügen on the Baltic Sea coast. INA staff organise scientific congresses and workshops on a wide range of nature conservation topics, bringing together people from public agencies, the scientific community, policy making, business, non-governmental organisations and foundations. Institutions and organisations are able to book the academy for seminars.
BfN performs central administrative tasks for the Federal Government in the area of nature conservation and landscape management. To this end, it enforces federal laws and statutory instruments in instances where the responsibility for enforcement does not lie with the sixteen German Länder.
In particular, BfN is responsible for enforcement in relation to marine nature conservation and the import and export of protected species.
BfN is the competent authority for nature conservation in the North Sea and Baltic Sea exclusive economic zone (EEZ) between 12 and 200 nautical miles from the coastline. We are responsible for the enforcement of marine habitat and species conservation law, for the management of protected areas and for impact mitigation, and are involved in the approval of wind farms and other offshore projects.
Many animal and plant species are endangered due to taking from the wild. The BfN is responsible for monitoring and issuing permits for imports and exports of protected species and products derived from them.
In addition, BfN supports other agencies in various administrative acts such as the approval of applications for the release and placing on the market of genetically modified plants, animals and microorganisms and the recognition of nature conservation organisations. BfN is also responsible for access to genetic resources and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from their utilisation.