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Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity: nature conservation and climate policy are mutually beneficial (Germany)

A new study has assessed the value of ecosystem-based approaches to mitigating climate changes and conserving biodiversity in Germany. The researchers highlight the trade-offs and synergies between climate adaptation and nature conservation and suggest that effective ecosystem-based climate policy requires improved coordination between different sectors, such as agriculture, forestry and energy.

Many EU countries have ambitious policies aimed at mitigating the potential impacts of climate change. For example, the German government aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% (compared to 1990 levels) by 2030. Climate policy can affect ecosystems and land use in variety of ways, either complementing or occasionally conflicting with policies aimed at conserving biodiversity.

Nature-based solutions — those which use or imitate natural processes — can benefit both biodiversity and climate-change adaptation and mitigation. The ecosystem approach in relation to climate policy involves the sustainable management of ecosystems to implement mitigation and adaptation actions, for example, by conserving forests to protect natural stores of carbon within trees and decrease soil erosion or water flows, thus reducing the impacts of floods. On the other hand, climate-change adaptation measures, such as the strengthening of grey flood defences, may in some instances interfere with natural processes in rivers and along the coast and therefore, affect biodiversity.

Using national assessment reports from the German TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity) initiative1, 2, this study reviewed the impact of Germany’s climate policy to analyse how the ecosystem approach can contribute to climate-change mitigation and the protection of ecosystem services and biodiversity. The researchers identified synergies and trade-offs for climate policy and lessons were drawn from major land-use sectors, including agriculture, peatlands, forests, wetlands and coastal and marine ecosystems.

Source: Wüstemann, H., Bonn, A., Albert, C., et al. (2017). Synergies and trade-offs between nature conservation and climate policy: Insights from the “Natural Capital Germany – TEEB DE” study. Ecosystem Services. 24:2280-2287. DOI:10.1016/j.ecoser.2017.02.008
Contact: henry.wuestemann [at] tu-berlin.de