Biodiversity - Research for Biological Diversity

Biodiversity is the source of the world’s riches. It is the foundation of our existence. Current land use, population growth, as well as our economic and value systems are resulting in high resource consumption and the destruction of important habitats. This is putting functioning ecosystems, a crucial factor in humanity’s welfare, at risk. In this light, the loss of biodiversity is one of the major challenges that mankind is facing, and one of the most urgent policy areas. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) promotes numerous international and national research projects that aim to preserve our basis of existence and to find ways to use them sustainably.

Das Bild stellt eine Nahaufnahme der Heilpflanze Sonnentau dar, die von Gräsern umwachsen ist. (Ralf Schindek)
The medicinal plant sundew in the Rhön region.
photo: Ralf Schindek

Biodiversity is an important foundation for human existence. It delivers food, medicinal plants and important medicinal ingredients as well as natural substances (for clothing, building and raw materials) and provides us with so called ecosystem services, such as climate regulation. Additionally, it contributes to the provision of (drinking) water and offers protection from flooding.

To provide for an increasing population, ever more natural habitats are being claimed, changed and converted. Resource consumption (soil, area, water) is increasing on a grand scale. International studies have shown that the destruction of habitats is on the increase worldwide and that a large number of species are being irretrievably lost.

The loss of biodiversity is apparent in Germany too: a quarter of all plant species and a third of all animal species are considered endangered. As part of the “National Strategy for Biodiversity” (NBS) the BMBF, together with the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) is funding research and implementation measures, with the aim of stopping the loss of biodiversity and reversing the trend by 2020.

The aim of the BMBF’s research funding is to develop solutions to stem the loss of biodiversity and, where possible, reverse the effects, as well as ensuring the provision of ecosystem services through the development of long term sustainable usage strategies. This is the only way to guarantee clean water, climate regulation and the reduction of pollutants permanently.

Preserving biodiversity is comparable to the challenge that climate change presents and both developments are closely linked in terms of cause and impact. Global themes of this scale cannot be tackled in the context of national borders alone, which is why the BMBF has made the internationalisation of science and research one of the goals for BMBF-research funding. A joint search for solutions must take place across national borders.

The success of these research projects is dependent on cooperation between natural, economic, and social sciences as well as close cooperation with other stakeholders. For this reason the research projects, whether national or international, are being developed jointly with decision makers and other players in the target areas. In this way action strategies and utilisation concepts are developed that aim to realise the sustainable use of biological diversity.

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) was founded to advise political decision makers on the current state and development of biodiversity and climate system services. IPBES provides politicians with a global and impartial current state of knowledge on biodiversity research. IPBES does not carry out its own research, but rather evaluates the results of hundreds of researchers worldwide and uses this information to provide scientifically validated options for action in decision making processes regarding the protection of biodiversity and ecosystems. To advise and assist the IPBES, the BMBF and the BMUB founded the German IPBES Coordination Office at the DLR Project Management Agency in Bonn, April 2014.

Last update: 06.04.2018