Biodiversity - Research for Biological Diversity

Biodiversity represents the wealth of our world. It is the basis of our existence. Current land use, population growth, and our economic and value system lead to a high consumption of resources and the destruction of habitats. More and more species are disappearing, most of them unnoticed. As a result, ecosystem functions that are crucial for our well-being are at risk. Against this background, the loss of biodiversity is one of the central challenges to global provision for the future and is one of the most urgent policy fields.

The BMBF supports numerous international and national research projects aimed at conserving and sustainably using biodiversity. With the launch of the BMBF "Research Initiative for the Conservation of Biodiversity", funding will be geared even more towards developing concrete options for action that will enable decision-makers from politics, economy, and society to counteract the loss of biodiversity quickly and effectively.

Biodiversity is the vital foundation for human existence. It provides us with food, medicinal plants, important medicinal compounds, and natural raw materials (clothing, building materials) and performs other so-called ecosystem services, such as supplying (drinking) water and fertile soil. It also helps to regulate the climate and prevent flooding.

To supply a growing population, more and more natural habitats are claimed, modified, and wholly transformed. The consumption of resources (like soil, surface area, and water) is increasing dramatically. International studies show that the destruction of habitats worldwide is progressing and many species are irretrievably lost as a consequence.

The loss of biodiversity is also progressing noticeably in Germany: almost one third of all animal and plant species are considered endangered. Bird and insect species are particularly affected. In parts of Germany, the total number of insects has declined by more than 75% over the last 27 years. In the EU, the population of field birds has more than halved since 1980. Field birds such as the lapwing or the whinchat have already disappeared from many regions. It is high time not only to halt the decline in biodiversity, but reverse the trend.

International and interdisciplinary cooperation is imperative

Preserving biodiversity presents as large a challenge as dealing with climate change. Both developments are closely linked in terms of their causes and effects. Climate change, for example, is one of the so-called direct drivers responsible for the change and loss of biodiversity. Land use represents another critical direct driver, whereas our consumption patterns are indirect drivers of loss. Our consumption, for instance, has an influence on agricultural cultivation practices and leads to changes in our ecosystems, usually bearing negative consequences for us people, as well.

The aim of the BMBF research funding is to improve our systemic understanding and to develop concrete options for action and instruments for biodiversity management and decision-making in politics, administration, and industry. The success of the research projects depends not only on the cooperation between the natural science, economic, and social science disciplines, but also on intensive cooperation with additional interest groups and decision-makers. The internationalization of science and research is also one of the tasks of the BMBF research funding, as global topics of this scope cannot be dealt with exclusively in the context of national borders. A joint search for solutions must take place across national borders.

The World Biodiversity Council (IPBES) is an important source for assessing the state and development of biodiversity and for identifying the most urgent problems that must be addressed. IPBES does not conduct research, but collects and evaluates existing knowledge from around the world. On this basis, it compiles scientifically sound information about the protection of biodiversity and ecosystems and transmits it to politicians and decision-makers. IPBES also identifies concrete tools and methods to support the implementation of policy decisions. In April of 2014, the BMBF and the BMU (Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety) set up the German IPBES Coordination Office at the DLR Project Management Agency (DLR-PT) in Bonn to advise and support the work conducted by IPBES.

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