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Climate and biodiversity Combating climate change
Ecosystems’ natural potential to store greenhouse gases depends on a great variety of factors and is difficult to determine precisely. Overall, however, forests, oceans, peatlands and permafrost store vast quantities of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane. When forests are cut down or peatlands drained, or when permafrost soils thaw due to global warming, these gases are lost to the atmosphere and further drive climate change. Healthy ecosystems, in contrast, contribute significantly to mitigating the impacts of climate change for people and nature.
Nature-based solutions, such as the conservation and restoration of soils, wetlands and forests while preserving biodiversity, are indispensable to achieving the Paris Climate Agreement’s 1.5 degree Celsius goal. The BMZ aims to boost the pursuit of solutions of this kind in various ecosystems. In partner countries, well-planned and implemented nature-based solutions can reduce vulnerability to climate and environmental change, safeguard the provision of ecosystem services and thus sustain livelihoods and the well-being of poor and vulnerable people in particular.
In this context, the BMZ supports projects aimed at tropical forest conservation in the Amazon region, the Congo Basin and Indonesia, as well as peatland restoration projects. In addition to these bilateral projects and contributions to multilateral organisations, the BMZ also supports initiatives such as the Legacy Landscapes Fund, the Blue Action Fund, the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (External link) (AFR100) and the Foundation Development and Climate Alliance (External link).
Forests cover more than 30 per cent of the Earth's surface and are home to about 80 per cent of the known species of flora and fauna living outside the oceans. Forests are crucial for the climate as they form natural carbon sinks: they store large amounts of carbon and remove carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, from the atmosphere.
Millions of hectares of forest are destroyed every year regardless, much of it in the tropics. Since 1990, an estimated 420 million hectares of forest have been lost, roughly the size of the European Union territory. Agriculture is responsible for almost 90 per cent of global forest loss. Especially in the tropics, forests are cleared for the cultivation of soya beans or palm oil, for example, releasing as much carbon into the atmosphere in the process as forests can store in 50 to 100 years.
Roughly ten per cent of global annual greenhouse gas emissions are due to forest degradation, more than three-quarters of which arise in the tropics and subtropics. It is therefore vital to biodiversity conservation and to efforts to combat global warming that the existing forests are preserved.
In order to halt global forest degradation, wide-ranging action must be taken quickly. The BMZ therefore participates in the Glasgow Leaders Declaration on Forests and Land Use, a broad alliance of more than 140 countries, which together account for more than 90 per cent of the global forest area, and other actors from the private sector and civil society. At the climate negotiations in Glasgow in November 2021, these countries committed to working together to end the loss of natural forests by 2030, restore 350 million hectares of forest and make agricultural supply chains deforestation-free. The declaration was supplemented by the Global Forest Finance Pledge to the amount of twelve billion US dollars for the period until 2025. The BMZ has pledged 700 million euros to date.
The BMZ has long been committed to forest conservation, sustainable management and re-establishment. In the past five years (2017 to 2021), the BMZ has provided some 2.5 billion euros in budget funds to this end and is currently supporting forest-related projects in more than 40 countries (as at December 2021). The Amazon lowlands and the Congo Basin, the two largest contiguous tropical forest regions, are priority funding regions.
Climate change adaptation
Biological diversity and healthy ecosystems are essential for people and nature to be able to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change. Genetic diversity increases the probability that a sufficient number of species will find suitable conditions to persist even under changed climatic conditions. Healthy ecosystems are less vulnerable to the climate change impacts already occurring today and they ensure the sufficient availability of important ecosystem services, such as clean water and fresh air. At the same time, healthy forests, for example, buffer the effects of floods, heavy rains and storms that would otherwise cause much greater damage.
For the adaptation of societies to the impacts of climate change, “green infrastructure” plays an important role. The international concept of ecosystem-based climate change adaptation combines the objectives of climate change mitigation, biodiversity conservation and sustainable resource management. The aim is to increase the resilience of ecosystems and gradually reduce people’s vulnerability to the adverse impacts of climate change. At the same time, these measures can also have a positive impact on economic, social and cultural development in the regions.
Numerous development programmes for habitat conservation therefore contribute not only to biodiversity conservation but also to climate change adaptation.
As at: 25/10/2022