National activities for biological diversity
The Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) advocates improved measures to protect biodiversity and structural diversity in agricultural landscapes and forests. The BMEL therefore developed a package of policy measures.
Sectoral strategy on agro-biodiversity
As early as the year 2000, the BMEL developed the "Concept on the conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources for food, agriculture and forestry". It illustrates the technical foundations, overall conditions, programmes and measures at national, European and international levels. This concept, alongside new subject areas, forms the basis of the "Sectoral strategy on agro-biodiversity". This strategy supplements the Federal Government’s national strategy for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity.
In Germany, the sectoral strategy is largely implemented through specific technical programmes for the following areas: animals, plants, forestry and fisheries. These activities are coordinated by a specialist panel made up of representatives of the Federal Government, the Länder, the scientific community and associations.
Promotion through the Joint Task for the Improvement of Agricultural Structures and Coastal Support (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 (GAK). Agri-environmental programmes are important instruments for conserving biodiversity in agricultural ecosystems. Among other things, they remunerate:
- compliance with diverse crop rotations;
- the growing and conservation of regionally adapted crops that are under threat;
- the breeding and keeping of rare and endangered crops and livestock;
- use of floriferous seeds, for example as field margins;
- the planting of orchard meadows;
- the conversion of arable land into permanent grassland; or
- extensive grassland farming.
Projects on the transfer between knowledge and practice
The BMEL finances a range of projects, for example:
- stocktaking exercises, surveys and non-scientific studies,
- model and demonstration projects in the field of conservation and innovative use of biodiversity.
In addition, the following cross-sectoral schemes promote projects on the subject of “biological diversity”:
- Federal Scheme for Organic Farming and Other Forms of Sustainable Agriculture
- Protein Crop Strategy
- Need for guidance in decision-making
- Forest Climate Fund
- European research initiatives
- BMEL innovation support
- German Innovation Partnership on Agriculture (DIP)
- Innovation promotion by the Rentenbank (Germany's development agency for agribusiness and rural areas).
Information and Coordination Centre for Biological Diversity (IBV)
The Information and Coordination Centre for Biological Diversity (IBV) of the Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (BLE) assists the Federal Ministry of Agriculture in its activities to preserve and promote agro-biodiversity. Its main task is to gather and provide information, provide technical support for programmes and support schemes, provide consultation and coordinate activities.
Among other things, the IBV runs the Information System on Genetic Resources (GENRES) that serves as an information platform on agro-biodiversity. GENRES supports the implementation of the BMEL Strategy on Agro-Biodiversity and the implementation of the national technical programmes on plant, animal, forest and aquatic genetic resources. Against this backdrop, GENRES has also evolved into a monitoring tool for these technical programmes.
Protection of insects and bees: German bee monitoring
Of the estimated 20,000 bee species worldwide, approx. 560 are endemic to Germany and are indispensable for our ecosystems and landscapes. They themselves form part of biodiversity. Their pollination helps greatly in preserving biological diversity by conserving and renewing the flowering plants themselves and by very effective fruit and seed setting of wild and arable crops to provide human and animal food. Experts agree that the decline in pollinators constitutes one of the main threats to the conservation of biological diversity.
In order to improve the living conditions for bees and reduce losses in winter, the BMEL and the Länder jointly finance the "German Bee Monitoring" system. It provides valuable insights into the complex issue of bee health, beekeeping and apiculture.
Information initiative for diversity in shopping
In the international year of biodiversity (2010) the BMEL launched an initiative on protecting and using biological diversity, under the slogan "protection through use", to raise public awareness of the subject of “agro-biodiversity”.
A large number of events, activities, competitions and other measures for consumer information were held. These 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 and the drawing up of a "Diversity Map" on the internet. The initiative developed e-cards, pictures, videos, games, flyers, brochures and guidelines.
The main objective of this initiative was to raise public awareness of agro-biodiversity and to inform people about the connections between agro-biodiversity and consumer habits. The diversity of experience, the wealth of culinary delights and impressions, and the possibilities of actively using biological diversity in everyday life played a special role in this respect.
How consumers can make a difference
Consumers, too, can preserve agro-biodiversity, for their eating and buying habits play a key role! In order to bring their influence to bear, consumers need ecological know-how and guidance in decision-making, for example with regard to certifications and quality assurance systems.