The BMBF Research Initiative for the Conservation of Biodiversity (FEdA) aims to provide new insights into the extent of biodiversity loss in Germany and the underlying causes in order to enable the development of effective interventions. The novelty of FEdA’s approach lies in developing solutions not only from a scientific and ecological point of view, but also taking into account social and economic perspectives early in the process. Therefore, the initiative also addresses stakeholders from politics, civil society, economy, and agriculture—cities and municipalities, nature conservation organisations, interested citizens, farmers, and industrial associations. The research initiative is divided into three strategic focus areas:
1. Innovative technologies and methods to improve and boost the efficiency of biodiversity monitoring
One goal of the research initiative is to track trends in biodiversity more precisely than before, to enable more reliable model calculations and predictions regarding species loss. Besides generating new scientific knowledge in the initiative’s research projects, it is also necessary to systematically review and summarise the results already available. Up to now, biodiversity observations in Germany have been mostly decentralised and have focused only on selected groups of species. In the future, a standardised nationwide monitoring system is to be established for a broad spectrum of animal and plant species. This requires innovative technologies that collect data faster and more automatised. In addition to technical solutions, the research initiative also counts on the contribution of interested citizens in the context of voluntary work or citizen science projects in order to better understand biodiversity trends in Germany.
2. Enhanced understanding of the causes, dynamics, and consequences of biodiversity changes
The research initiative contributes to improving our understanding of the causes of biodiversity loss in Germany. Previous research has mostly been limited to a few groups of organisms, such as birds or insects. Some of the initiative’s projects therefore focus on less frequently studied organisms, for instance, various soil organisms. Another task is to take into account the complex character of biodiversity. Therefore, the scientists not only focus on the number of different species in a given location, but also observe the genetic diversity within a species, its biomass, or its integration into the ecosystem.
3. Systemic solutions and a ‘repertoire of measures’ developed in cooperation with prospective users
To sustainably protect biodiversity in Germany, a large number of stakeholders and interested parties must agree on effective interventions. To this end, the research initiative will organise stakeholder forums where representatives from politics, business, agriculture, and civil society can meet and exchange viewpoints, which in turn will likely improve the success in conserving biodiversity. FEdA will also investigate what prevented the successful implementation of measures in the past. For example, conflicts between preservation and economic interests must be identified and resolved. To identify which interventions are effective in which landscapes, the initiative will study model regions that are representative of different ecosystems in Germany.
The initiative’s central coordination office, located at the Senckenberg Research Institute in Frankfurt, is to integrate the research findings and facilitate the communication of the projects. The development of the research initiative is overseen by an advisory board.