Biodiversity is the source of the world’s riches. The continuous loss of biodiversity represents a mutual challenge for science, society and politics. The German Ministry funds numerous research projects that aim to preserve our biodiversity.

A quarter of the plant species in Germany is in jeopardy. © 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.

One third of animal species is endangered

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.

Halting biodiversity loss through research

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. This will allow the development of strategies and utilisation concepts 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 PT-DLR, Project Management Agency – part of the German Aerospace Center in Bonn, April 2014.