Action 11: Understanding the systemic correlations of changes in biodiversity
We want to close the knowledge gaps relating to the causes, dynamics and consequences of changes in biodiversity and obtain reliable projections of the development of biodiversity.
Where do we stand?
Many causes of biodiversity loss are known in principle, such as the expansion of residential, commercial and transport areas, land use change, the high use of fertilisers and pesticides, and climate change. However, there are considerable gaps in our knowledge about the specific contribution of individual drivers of species loss, how they interact, and how indirect social and economic factors (such as population growth, consumer behaviour and trade and supply chains) influence biological diversity. The extent of species extinction and the resulting changes in the ecosystems affected are only understood for a few well-studied species and natural areas. There is a high probability that a number of ecological tipping points will be reached in the coming decades at all levels of organisation (species, populations, biocoenoses, ecosystems).
What are the research needs?
Understanding the causal relationships between factors relevant to biodiversity changes in Germany, Europe and worldwide is a prerequisite for assessing future developments and deciding on appropriate measures. To this end, the extent, causes, dynamics and consequences of biodiversity loss on land and at sea must be researched more intensively. There is also a need for research on tipping points, i.e. critical thresholds above which there are irreversible consequences for ecosystem functions and services. A further task of biodiversity research is the analysis of the influences of economic, social, cultural and political drivers. In this area, more closely interlinking scientific research with society-related sustainability research will provide fresh impetus concerning the necessary social transformation towards more sustainability.
Implementation steps and milestones
- With the Research Initiative for the Conservation of Biodiversity, we will promote the detailed assessment of the consequences and risks of biodiversity loss for the provision of ecosystem services and for core areas of value creation and quality of life from 2020 onwards.
- We will strengthen research on the protection of insects through the Federal Government’s Action Programme for Insect Protection. By 2025, we will present our findings on the extent, causes and drivers of insect mortality in protected areas, as well as on the possible consequences and risks of biodiversity loss for relevant species and ecosystems.
- By 2025, we will present assessments of the status and trends in biological diversity for Germany’s most important habitat types in the ‘Biodiversity Fact Check’.
- We will continue the international and interdisciplinary funding programme on the tipping points, dynamics and interdependencies of social and ecological systems beyond 2022. This will enable us to research the resilience of various biological and social systems and to develop solutions for identifying and avoiding tipping points.
- As part of the German Marine Research Alliance (DAM), we are funding an initiative to characterise biodiversity in the protected areas of the North and Baltic Seas from 2020 onwards, in order to assess the impact of bottom fishery on sediments.
- Via the Biodiversity Dialogue Platform, we will regularly discuss the findings from research and development with experts, representatives from politics, relevant business sectors and civil society groups in committees and stakeholder forums from 2020 onwards. By 2025, we want to achieve a better understanding of the socio-economic processes and drivers and use this to derive recommendations for appropriate countermeasures.