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 for 1970, 1975 and from 1990 to 2019 in percent. The aggregate indicator decreases significantly from 214 in 1970 to 75 in 2019.Click to enlarge
Population of representative bird species in different landscape and habitat types
Source: UBA 2023 / own representation from Indikatorenbericht der Bundesregierung zur Nationalen Strategie zur biologischen Vielfalt 2023 Figure as PDF

Table of Contents


At a glance

  • In 2019 the indicator was at 75.3 percent and remains far from the target value of 100 percent.
  • Particularly the values of the sub-indicators for agricultural land and inland waters have shown a negative development in recent years.
  • In the German Sustainable Development Strategy, the Federal Government envisages that the indicator should rise to 100 percent by 2030. Considerable additional effort is required to achieve this.

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 significant decline during the last 10 years of the data series. It was as low as 75 % of the target value in 2019. The main causes for this development are intensive agricultural use, landscape fragmentation and urban sprawl, sealing of soils 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. Especially the sub-indicators agricultural land and inland waters are well off target.

In 2004, 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 percent 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. Considerable additional efforts by federal, state, and local governments are needed to achieve the 2030 target in order to begin reversing the trend to meet the goal.



The indicator shows the development of the populations of selected bird species for the most important landscape and habitat types in Germany. The indicator, which was developed in 2004, was reviewed and adapted in a research project from 2019 - 2022. For each bird species, a panel of experts defined a population target value for the year 2030 that can be achieved if nature conservation regulations and guidelines for sustainable development are implemented swiftly. The target values were standardized to give a target value of 100 percent for the overall indicator. A detailed description of the method can be found in Achtziger et al. 2004. The revision of the indicator will be presented in Dröschmeister et al. (in preparation).


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

Dröschmeister, R., Schlumprecht, H., Trautmann, S., Braeckevelt, E., Busch, M., Gerlach, B., Graser, A., Koffijberg, K., Ludwig, M., Müller, K., & Züghart, W. (in Vorbereitung): Indikator Artenvielfalt und Landschaftsqualität: Überprüfung der Zielwerte für 2030 - Methoden, Abstimmung und Ergebnisse. BfN-Schriften. (in German only)