Natural Capital Germany – TEEB DE

Background and Goals

"Natural Capital Germany - TEEB DE" focuses on nature's services at the national level. The main task is to produce four topic-based reports presenting the economic case for nature conservation, as a complement to ethical and ecological arguments.

The following key policy issues are being addressed:

  • What role do ecosystems in Germany play in climate mitigation and adaptation?
  • How can we safeguard ecosystem services in rural and protected areas?
  • How do urban parks and ecosystems contribute to the quality of life in cities?
  • What options and policy instruments are available for better integrating the value of biodiversity and ecosystem?

Numerous individuals from academia, public policy, business and civil society are collaborating on the reports and are contributing via the project's interactive website. "Natural Capital Germany" seeks to synthesize current research on ecosystem service valuation and to showcase successful examples of taking into account the social and economic importance of natural capital in Germany.

The superior goal of the project is to make visible the societal significance and value of nature and its associated ecosystem services for Germany and to take better account of them in public and private decisions. In more detail, "Natural Capital Germany" seeks to

  • raise awareness on the interrelation of the manifold services of nature, economic value creation and human well-being,
  • give an impulse to assess the services and values of nature in more detail and increase their visibility in Germany,
  • examine possibilities and develop suggestions to better integrate natural capital in private and public decision processes in order to safeguard natural life-support systems and biological diversity in the long term.

From 2012 to 2015 four reports will be produced as the project's main output, accompanied by two brochures.


  • Natural Capital and Climate Policy - Synergies and Conflicts
  • Capturing the Value of Ecosystem Services in Rural Areas
  • Ecosystem Services in the City - Protecting Health and Enhancing Quality of Life
  • Natural Capital Germany: New Policy Options - A Synthesis


  • The Value of Nature for Economy and Society: An Introduction
  • The Business Perspective

Content time


Research area/region

  • Germany
Region of implementation (all German federal states)
  • Baden-Württemberg
  • Bavaria
  • Berlin
  • Brandenburg
  • Bremen
  • Hamburg
  • Hesse
  • Mecklenburg Western Pomerania
  • Lower Saxony
  • Northrhine-Westphalia
  • Rhineland Palatinate
  • Saarland
  • Saxony
  • Saxony-Anhalt
  • Schleswig-Holstein
  • Thuringia
Natural spatial classification
  • Alp and North Bavarian hills
  • Alps
  • Alpine Foothills
  • Erz Mountains, Thuringian Forest and Bavarian Forest
  • coasts: North Sea-/Baltic Sea coasts
  • Low mountain ranges left and right of Rhine
  • North-East German lowland
  • North-West German lowland
  • Upper Rhine Rift
  • South-Eeastern basin and hills
  • West German lowland bay
  • Central low mountain ranges and Harz

Steps in the process of adaptation to climate change

Step 1: Understand and describe climate change

Approach and results 

The project is based on the latest information on the potential climate change (IPCC 5th Assessment Report

Parameter (climate signals)
  • Altered rainfall patterns
  • Higher average temperatures
  • Sea level rise und storm surges
Further Parameters 

Other parameters that can affect species and habitats

Time horizon
  • short term = next year’s / decades
  • medium term = to 2050
  • long term = to 2100 and beyond
Further times 

up to 2100

Step 2a: Identify and assess risks - climate effects and impact

Approach and results 

The geographical distribution of animals and plants is - in addition to the availability of suitable habitats - limited by climatic parameters. Small- or large-scale changes in climatic conditions, affects the composition of flora and fauna of an ecosystem and accordingly the interactions between species and the processes and products of which people benefit: the ecosystem services.

There are various connections and interdependencies between climate change, the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services:

  •  Climate change is one of the major drivers of biodiversity loss. It affects biodiversity directly by changing the conditions of life for animals and plants, but also indirectly by the design of climate policy (actions on climate change or to adapt to climate change).
  •  Measures for mitigation and adaptation to climate change instituted by the climate policy are often associated with changes in land use (e.g. conversion natural areas in those for energy production, construction of dikes), which may affect the biodiversity and ecosystem services as well. This may lead to conflicts between climate policy, nature conservation and biodiversity policy.

Step 3: Develop and compare measures

Measures and/or strategies 

Ecosystem-based approaches make use of nature`s services for adaptation to climate change. They create opportunities for a climate policy that strengthens the adaptability to climate change of land use systems while maintaining and promoting biodiversity and ecosystem services. Thus the flexibility of ecosystems to adapt to climate change can be strengthened significantly.

To illustrate this, studies and case studies have been collected, demonstrating the efficiency of nature-friendly or nature conservation measures. These are presented online in a searchable database and an active map. In many cases these case studies can also serve to climate adaptation.

Example for a case study: Facilitating rivers to flow and saving costs:

Natural flood protection with ecological services at the Elbe

Unimpaired river flood plains provide valuable habitats for a highly diverse flora and fauna. In addition, they serve as natural buffer against floods and they help to decrease nutrient loads in our rivers. Therefore, costs for building expensive dike systems and water treatment plants can be saved. Due to climate change the number of flood events is likely to increase over the next years. Thus, cheap solutions for flood control have to be found. Cost-benefit-analyses have shown that dike relocation with flood plains is a cost-efficient protection against flood damages and it can simultaneously support ecosystem services.

Additionally, options are shown to improve the integration of nature´s value into private and public decisions, to obtain a careful use of scarce natural resources.

Time horizon
  • 2071–2100 (far future)
Conflicts / synergies / sustainability 

Some instruments of the climate and energy policy can have a negative impact on nature and ecosystem services. Analyses of synergies and potential conflicts between climate policy and nature conservation can be improved by identifying and economic assessment of climate-related (and others) nature’s services.

Economic recommendations for taking advantage of synergies between climate- and biodiversity policies include such as the conservation of ecosystems with high storage and sink potential (establishment of the No Net Loss concept concerning the carbon storage), the rehabilitation of degraded ecosystems and a land utilization which is more climate protection oriented.

Up to now there is no comprehensive climate policy goal for emission reductions in the agricultural sector that is backed up with measures.

For taking advantage of synergies between climate protection and biodiversity conservation two objectives need to be considered in particular:

  • Concerning the conservation of grassland a quantitative purpose for high-quality grassland should be sought since there is a particularly high potential for synergies.
  • Revision of the funding practices in bioenergy (German Action Plan 2020, amendment of the German Renewable Energy Act of January 2012).

Regarding the sector of forestry there is no coherent concept yet as well. Concerning the mitigation it appears to be hardly possible to increase the existing synergies between biodiversity conservation and climate protection in forest management, due to the interactions of carbon storage in forests, harvested wood and substitution of greenhouse products.

There is therefore a high demand for research in this field. The degree of substitution in terms of timber products could be increased by expanding the cascaded utilization and by giving priority to the material use.

Step 4: Plan and implement measures

Costs of the measures 

The central aim of the project is the economic valorisation of nature capital in Germany, since there is a significant economic value of nature due to the wide range of ecosystem services. Often this value is absent from private and public sector decision making. In most cases this lack of consideration is unintentional, as decision makers are not aware of these free benefits from nature. An economic perspective can generate more transparency.

The aim of economic valuation is not to put a price tag on plants and animals but rather to uncover the hidden value of biological diversity and ecosystem services - the value of "natural capital" - for society.


Funding / Financing 

Funding by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) with funds from the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB)

Project management 

Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ)


Members of the Stakeholder Committee:

  • Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)
  • World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF Germany)
  • German Environmental Aid e.V. (DUH)
  • Nature And Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU)
  • Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND)
  • German Farmers' Association e.V. (DBV)
  • German Forestry Council (DFWR)
  • "Biodiversity in Good Company" Initiative
  • German Tourism Association e.V. (DTV)
  • Federation of German Industries e.V. (BDI)
  • Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Strategy (BMUB)
  • Project management of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) at the German Aerospace Centre e.V. (DLR)
  • Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL)
  • Scientific Advisory Board of the BMEL „Biodiversity and Genetic Resources", Technical University Munich
  • Federal Ministry for Traffic and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI)
  • Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi)
  • German Working Group on Water Issues of the Federal States and the Federal Government (LAWA)
  • German Working Group on Nature Conservation, Landscape Management and Recreation of the Federal States and the Federal Government (LANA)
  • Association "Municipalities for Biological Diversity", City of Heidelberg, Agency for Environmental Protection, Trade Supervision and Energy
  • German Association of Towns and Municipalities (DStGB)

Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung (UFZ)gemeinnützige GmbH
Theodor-Lieser-Straße 4
D-06120 Halle/Saale

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Fields of action:
 biological diversity  cross sectoral