German development cooperation

Creating and conserving protected areas

A frog.

An important instrument for conserving biodiversity is the establish­ment and sustain­able manage­ment of protected areas, national parks and bio­sphere reserves. They help to pro­tect water resources, the soil and the climate and preserve genetic resources for future generations.

These areas provide important environmental services that are crucial to the physical and economic survival of millions of people. There are some 100,000 protected areas in the world and the value of the services they provide is estimated at between 4.4 and 5.2 billion US dollars annually. By contrast, the pro­gressive de­struc­tion of biological diversity gives rise to huge economic costs that have not in the past been adequately depicted in overall economic calculations.

The great importance of protected areas is also reflected in the strategic plan for im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Con­ven­tion on Bi­ol­o­gi­cal Diversity that was agreed in 2010 in Nagoya, Japan. The eleventh of the 20 ambitious targets calls for at least 17 per cent of the world's terrestrial area (of which just under 13 per cent is cur­rent­ly pro­tected) and at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas (of which less than 1 per cent is cur­rent­ly protected) to be conserved by 2020. German de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion is sup­port­ing its partner countries in their efforts to achieve these targets. In 2010, via bi­la­teral agree­ments and regional pro­grammes, Germany committed more than 70 million euros to projects in this area.

Taking the interests of the local community into account

If a protected area is to serve its purpose and survive over time, it is vital when establishing it to take account of the interests, values and way of life of the local community. This is particularly important in the farmland surrounding protected areas and is why, when implementing nature conservation measures, Germany is always careful to involve the local community right from the planning stage. By advising the responsible institutions and training their staff, it is also ensured that protected areas will be properly administered.

An important aspect of this is the sustainable financing of protected areas. BMZ is involved in the 'LifeWeb' initiative set up by Germany in 2008. This is a co­op­er­a­tion scheme that initiates and pro­motes partner­ships between coun­tries that want to improve their national system of protected areas and potential donors. The scheme also creates in­cen­tives for future financial support for protected areas from new sources such as private foundations and companies.

Preserving knowledge and culture

Biological diversity is the basis of cultural diversity. If it is lost, traditional know­ledge of the use of natural resources is also lost. For indigenous communities, in particular, biodiversity loss there­fore has far-reaching consequences: in a radically changed environment and without the natural resources they have used for thousands of years, such communities are often no longer able to continue their traditional way of life.

Recognition of the contribution made by indigenous peoples and local communities is an important aspect of German de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion. Even if the areas in which they live are not officially designated pro­tected areas, they often make a major con­tri­bu­tion to the con­ser­va­tion of biodiversity.

In this way the work undertaken by Germany also helps to pre­serve cultures under threat. Advice and support is pro­vided to the national insti­tu­tions responsible so that tra­di­tio­nal com­mu­ni­ties are afforded legal pro­tec­tion of their know­ledge and have a fair share in the benefits arising from the com­mer­cial use of their resources. The resulting profits can be re-invested by the in­sti­tu­tions in projects that pro­mote the con­ser­va­tion and sus­tain­able use of resources.

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