Indicator: Species diversity and landscape quality

A graph shows the development of the population of representative bird species for different landscapes and the development of an aggregate indicator from 1970 to 2016 The aggregate indicator decreases significantly from 107 in 1970 to 71 in 2016.Click to enlarge
Population of representative bird species in different landscape and habitat types
Source: Federal Agency for Nature Conservation / Dachverband Deutscher Avifaunisten Figure as PDF

Table of Contents


At a glance

  • In 2016 the indicator was at 70.5 and remains far from the target value.
  • The sub-indicators for farmland and coasts and sea have fared particularly badly.
  • In the German Sustainable Development Strategy, the Federal Government envisages that the indicator should rise to 100 by 2030.

Environmental importance

A rich diversity of plant and animal species is essential to the balance of nature and provides an important natural resource for humans. Species diversity is closely linked to the diversity of habitats and landscapes. Sustainable forms of land use across the landscape and a responsible treatment of the natural environment are required to maintain biodiversity.

The indicator presented here was developed to assess the state of nature and landscape in Germany. It shows changes in the population of selected bird species which are representative of Germany’s most important landscape and habitat types. Highly structured landscapes with intact, sustainably used habitats do not only provide habitats for birds. The indicator thus indirectly reflects trends in many other species living in the landscape and in the sustainability of land-use.


Assessing the development

In 1990, the indicator value was already significantly below the values that had been reconstructed for 1970 and 1975. The indicator continued to show a negative trend in the last 10 years of the data series, but recently rose again slightly. It was as low as 71 % of the target value in 2016. The main causes for this development are intensive agricultural use, landscape fragmentation and urban sprawl, sealing the ground and large-scale input of substances (e.g. nutrients, pesticides or acidifiers). The report ‘Vögel in Deutschland 2014’ (Wahl et al. 2015, in German only) illustrates this trend in detail.

In 2002, the indicator was developed as a key indicator for sustainable land use as part of the Strategy for Sustainable Development and incorporated in the National Strategy on Biological Diversity (BMU 2007). Initially, the target value of 100 was to be achieved by 2015. According to a progress report on Germany’s Sustainable Development Strategy, this deadline has been extended to 2030 by the government (BReg 2016). The 'Naturschutz-Offensive 2020' (in German only) sets out key measures to achieve a positive trend.



The indicator reflects the trend in populations of selected bird species for five landscape and habitat types. For each bird species, an expert committee has defined a population target for 2015 which can be achieved if nature conservation regulations and guidelines for sustainable development are implemented rapidly. The target values have been standardised to give a target of 100 for the overall indicator. Initially set for 2015, this target has been carried forward to 2030. Currently, the target values are being examined within a research project. A detailed description of the method can be found in Achtziger et al. 2004.

Achtziger et al. 2004: Achtziger, R; Stickroth, H; Zieschank, R, Nachhaltigkeitsindikator für die Artenvielfalt. Ein Indikator für den Zustand von Natur und Landschaft. Angewandte Landschaftökologie 63. (in German only)