Restoring biodiversity, achieving climate neutrality: Potential spaces for the renaturation of ecosystems in Germany

Sumava National Park

At the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Protection of Biological Diversity (COP 10 CBD for short) in 2010, the international community decided that, in order to stop biodiversity loss, at least 15 percent of damaged ecosystems should be restored by 2020. The EU also made use of this goal (Aichi Target 15 of the COP 10 CBD) in their biodiversity strategy for 2020. However, without clear definition and binding force, this has not yet been achieved.

For these reasons, the EU biodiversity strategy for 2030 prescribes legally binding restoration targets: to this end, the EU Commission intends to propose a new legal instrument by the beginning of 2022. The exact content of these goals is still under debate. However, the EU Commission has already indicated that the maintenance of ecosystem services that contribute to climate protection should be a focus.

Nature And Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) wanted to provide technical support for the public discussion. It commissioned the Society for Outdoor Ecology and Nature Conservation Planning (GFN) and adelphi to evaluate existing geographic base data and determine potential areas for ecosystem restoration. The resulting study presented suitable actions for various ecosystems and gave an initial assessment of which spaces are ideal for renaturation. For example, these include areas in the vicinity of existing protected spaces or in functional areas of a biotope network. The examined ecosystems represent potential to restore a total of 20 percent of the federal territory. There is a particularly high renaturation potential with a scope of over 9,300 km² on organic soils (2.6% of the federal territory), 3,720 km² in floodplains of larger rivers (1%) and over 40,000 km² in forests (11.1%) and 24,600 km² on grassland (6.9%).

The analysis, co-designed by adelphi, is meant to serve as a basis for future discussion on the negotiation and implementation of the EU legal instrument for the restoration of nature. As soon as the EU Commission publishes its proposal for a new legal instrument, it will be adapted by the EU co-legislators, the Council and the European Parliament. This must not lose sight of the pan-European perspective or the great urgency to restore ecosystems. In the subsequent implementation of the EU restoration targets and the elaboration of national restoration plans, earliest possible dialogue will be necessary to address or resolve any concerns or conflicts at an early stage.