Germany’s contribution

Creating and conserving protected areas

Anavilhanas National Park, Brazil

Sustainably managed protected areas such as national parks, biosphere reserves and world natural heritage sites, as well as local and private protected areas, constitute an important tool for the conservation of biodiversity. Investment in such areas is very worthwhile because the increasing destruction of biodiversity is generating enormous economic costs which have thus far been only inadequately reflected in economic accounting systems.

The great importance of protected areas is also reflected in the strategic plan for the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity, which was agreed in 2010 in Nagoya, Japan. The eleventh of the 20 targets (Aichi targets) formulated in the plan 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 placed under protected status by 2020.

Germany is providing financial and technical support for the development and management of protected areas to over 40 partner countries through its official development programme. These areas include 22 world heritage sites, 31 biosphere reserves and 17 cross-border protected areas. As of 2014, Germany had spent almost 178 million euros on endowing 13 conservation and biodiversity funds in Latin America, Africa and the Caucasus.

Taking the interests of the local community into account

A young giant tortoise is being measured.

Whereas in the past government-owned national parks were often set up as strictly safeguarded "islands" in the midst of other land use forms, the trend today is more towards developing networks that connect a variety of different types of protected areas. Alongside core regions that continue to be strictly protected, marginal or buffer zones are defined in which some agricultural activity is allowed, for instance.

The interests, values and lifestyles of the local population are considered from the outset in any conservation measures undertaken under German development cooperation. At the same time, projects advise the institutions responsible for managing the protected areas and provide training for their staff.

One important aspect of this work is securing long-term funding for the protected areas. The BMZ is therefore actively involved in the LifeWeb Initiative, which Germany began in 2008. This cooperation platform allows countries that are interested in improving their national systems for protected areas to network with potential donors. The initiative improves the planning and coordination of activities. It also creates incentives for future financial support for protected areas from non-governmental players, such as private foundations and companies.

Preserving traditional knowledge and cultures

Biological diversity is also the basis of cultural diversity. If it is lost, traditional knowledge about the use of natural resources is also lost. For indigenous communities, in particular, biodiversity loss therefore has far-reaching consequences. Even if the area they live in is not a habitat enjoying official government protection status, indigenous peoples and local communities often make significant contributions to conserving biodiversity.

Germany advocates strongly for greater recognition of this contribution. Germany also supports at-risk cultures as they seek to represent their interests at the national and international levels. Through its development cooperation programme, Germany advises the responsible national institutions on ways to provide legal protection for traditional knowledge and to guarantee that indigenous communities can receive an equitable share in the profits generated by marketing their resources.

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