It has been known for more than 40 years that the number of animal and plant species on Earth is drastically declining, on a scale reminiscent of the great mass extinctions of our planet’s history. Worldwide, about 30,000 species are acutely threatened with extinction. Many more could disappear forever before they even have been scientifically described. In Germany, about one third of all animals, plants and fungi are endangered, according to the most recent national Red Lists.
This loss of biodiversity is a threat to the well-being and the survival of humankind itself. Functioning ecosystems are necessary for the production of food, for clean water and obtaining medicinal ingredients from nature. An intact environment also helps in recreation and enhances people’s quality of life. Many of these benefits of biodiversity become apparent only when a considerable amount of species has already been lost. For this reason, experts consider it an urgent challenge for humanity to stop and reverse the decline of biodiversity as soon as possible.
Some causes of species loss are well known, such as the destruction of habitats due to land sealing and intensive agriculture, the use of pesticides and fertilisers, and global climate change. However, there is still considerable uncertainty regarding details of the extent and the causes of biodiversity loss, the interaction of various causes of this loss, and the effectiveness of specific interventions.
With the Research Initiative for the Conservation of Biodiversity (FEdA), the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) supports biodiversity research and the development of new, effective species conservation measures. The initiative includes research projects at various scientific institutions in Germany. The central coordination office is located at the Senckenberg Research Institute in Frankfurt.
In order to halt the loss of biodiversity, scientific knowledge must be translated into practical applications and interventions with a high acceptance from policymakers, the economy, and society at large. To this end, the research initiative not only addresses research institutions, but also invites stakeholders from politics, industry, agriculture, and conservation to participate in the dialogue. Read more about our approach here.