Biological diversity - an overview

This review of the last 6 years (2007-2013) provides an overview of the BMEL activities undertaken in the area of biological diversity. The conservation of biological diversity is an important element in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture's policy for a sustainable and viable agricultural sector.

The diversity of life enriches our earth. It constitutes the bedrock for production in the farming, forestry, fisheries and food sectors and is consequently the foundation of our supply of food. Biological diversity is at risk all over the world today, including in Germany. That is why we all need to act: Policy makers, industry representatives and scientists - and consumers as well. The best protection of biological diversity is to use this diversity sustainably. Each and every one of us can make their contribution to this.

Activities at global level

International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGR)

In 2004 the international community, including Germany, brought into force the "International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture" (ITPGR). The integral part of this treaty is the so-called multi-lateral system which provides for access to, and use of, the plant genetic resources of approx. 60 agricultural crops and forage plants for the benefit of all people.

Seeds of different crops Source: BLE, Foto:Thomas Stephan

The BMEL contributed almost US$ 500,000 towards the International Seed Treaty project fund. It is actively involved 30 projects spread over 35 countries. It is the joint objective of these projects to conserve the diversity of arable crops and to make them available for sustainable food security in these times of accelerating climate change.

Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA)

The BMEL has continuously increased its international commitment to strengthen the FAO "Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture". CGRFA is responsible for genetic resources of arable crops, livestock, forest plants, aquatic genetic resources, micro-organisms and invertebrates, and for cross-sectoral issues such as access to genetic resources and a just sharing of benefits, biotechnology to secure and use genetic resources, monitoring and indicators, and eco-system approaches. The BMEL supports the work of CGRFA in a number of different projects.

Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT)

The Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT) was founded in 2004 as an independent international organisation associated with the United Nations in accordance with international law. The BMEL will contribute approximately EUR 650,000 to the project work conducted by the GCDT between 2013 and 2015. The fund ensures the conservation and availability of plant genetic resources. On 22 May 2013, on the international day of biological diversity, the office of the Global Crop Diversity Trust was opened in Bonn.

Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

The CBD's global objective is the conservation and sustainable use of the earth's biological diversity and the access and fair and equitable sharing of benefits from the use of genetic resources. The CBD contains a specific work programme on agro-biodiversity. This programme includes important cross-sectoral initiatives for the agriculture and food sector, such as diversity of pollinators, diversity of soil and for food.

The Nagoya Protocol, adopted in Japan in 2010 by the CBD member states, specifically defines the CBD provisions regarding access to the use of genetic resources, and the sharing of benefits derived from these resources. The specific arrangements for the implementation of the protocol will also have effects on the exchange of genetic resources for food and agriculture and continues to be discussed intensely in international negotiations.

In April 2012, the Advisory Board on Biodiversity and Genetic Resources at the BMEL submitted an expert report on this subject entitled "Recommendations on the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol with respect to genetic resources in the farming, forestry, fisheries and food sectors".

Expert Report by the Scientific Advisory Board (German only)

National activities

The BMEL sector strategy for agro-biodiversity

In 2000 the former BMELV developed the "Concept on the conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources for the food, agriculture and forestry sector". It illustrates the technical basis, conditions, programmes and measures at national, European and international level, the need for action resulting from this and proposals for new measures. This concept together with new subject areas forms the basis of the "sector strategy on agro-biodiversity", .which complements the strategy for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity adopted by the federal Cabinet.

In Germany the sector strategy is largely implemented through specific technical programmes for the following areas: animals, plants, forestry and fisheries. A specialist panel made up of representatives of the federal government, the Länder, the scientific community and relevant associations coordinates these programmes. The "National Programme on Plant Genetic Resources of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops" was relaunched in autumn 2010..

Joint task for the “Improvement of Agricultural Structures and Coastal Protection”(GAK)

Specific measures for the preservation of genetic resources in agriculture are promoted by the Joint Task for the Improvement of Agricultural Structures and Coastal Protection. Agri-environmental programmes are still an important instrument for conserving biodiversity in agricultural ecosystems. Among other things, they remunerate the preservation of diversity in crop rotations, the conservation of regionally adapted varieties and breeds, the conversion of arable land into permanent pasture, the use of floriferous seeds, for example as field margins, the establishment of orchard meadows and grassland extensification measures. 

The "Protect and use biological diversity" initiative"

International Year of Biological Diversity - German logo

In the international year of biodiversity (2010) the former BMELV began to increase public awareness for agro-biodiversity under the slogan "protection through use" through an initiative on protecting and using biological diversity. A large number of events, activities, competitions and other measures on consumer information were held and implemented. Among other things this included, for example, an adventure tour in schools entitled "Diversity on tour: a mobile classroom in the tour bus" at approx. 60 locations, a school competition or the drawing up of a "Map of diversity" on the internet. The initiative developed e-cards, pictures, videos, games, flyer, brochures and guidelines. The main objective of this initiative is to raise public awareness on agro-biodiversity and to inform people about the connections between agro-biodiversity and consumer behaviour. Important connections include the possible diversity of experiences, the wealth of culinary delights and impressions, and the possibilities of actively using biological diversity in everyday life.

Information and Coordination Centre for Biological Diversity (IBV)

In order to preserve old plant varieties and animal breeds, the Information and Coordination Centre for Biological Diversity (IBV) of the federal Agency for Agriculture and Food (BLE) supports the Federal Ministry of Agriculture (BMEL) with various activities. Their main task is to gather and provide information, conduct the technical management of programmes and support schemes, provide consultation and coordinate activities.

German bee monitoring

Of the estimated 20,000 bee species worldwide, approx. 550 are domestic to Germany and are indispensable for ecosystems and our landscapes. Their pollination makes a considerable contribution to the preservation of biological diversity by conserving and renewing the plants themselves and by the ample setting of the fruit and seeds of wild and arable crops which are the staple diet of many animal species. In order to improve conditions for bees and reduce losses in winter, the BMEL and the Länder finance the "German bee monitoring" system.

As of:

Further information

Forest Climate Fund

Waldboden in Nahaufnahme

The Forest Climate Fund is part of the programme associated with the Energy and Climate Fund. A decision by the German Bundestag called for it to be established from 2013 under the joint responsibility of the Federal Ministries of Agriculture (BMEL) and the Environment (BMUB).

more: Forest Climate Fund …




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