New model project on insect protection in biosphere reserves brings together nature conservation experts and stakeholders in land management

In the UNESCO biosphere reserves Middle Elbe, Bavarian Rhön, Schaalsee, Schorfheide-Chorin and Black Forest, the next six years will be all about fields and meadows: There, the partners Nationale Naturlandschaften e. V. and the Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development (HNEE) together with the Leibniz-Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research e. V. (ZALF) will test and evaluate in a project led by WWF Germany together with local actors measures for better insect protection.

The project, which is funded by the Federal Ministry for the Environment , is to lead to a catalogue of ecologically and economically tested measures for different landscape and agricultural conditions. The project was launched during the International Green Week in February 2020, when Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze handed over the notice of funding to Dr. Diana Pretzell from WWF Germany. “Scientific studies have recently shown that insect diversity has also declined significantly in protected areas,” said Ms Bach, project manager at Nationale Naturlandschaften e. V. “Together with the biosphere reserves and a wide range of local partners, we want to find ways to counteract the loss of insect diversity.”

Hummel, © Stephanie Schubert
Hummel, © Stephanie Schubert

The five biosphere reserves will become model landscapes for more insect protection in agriculturally shaped cultural landscapes, this is the common goal of the partners in the network. The aim is to test and evaluate both existing and new insect-promoting measures on the cultivated areas and in adjacent structures – for example, flower strips, fallow strips, woodland borders, planting and mowing the edges of roads, insect-friendly use of machinery, reduction of the number of cuts, changes in mowing times, grazing instead of mowing, optimised fertilisation by reducing the quantity and changing application techniques. The focus is not only on the nature conservation potential of the measures, but also on how they can be integrated into the practice of the land managers involved and what economic consequences they have. Only if it is possible to develop sustainable and transferable models can insect-friendly land use be established in the long term and on a broad scale.

Almost three quarters of all animal species in Germany are insects. Both the total amount of insects and the diversity of insect species in Germany is declining. Central factors for insect decline are the use of pesticides and fertilizers, intensified agricultural cultivation of meadows and fields or light pollution. Added to this is the loss of habitats or their massive change, for example when meadow orchards, hedges or small water bodies disappear.

Blutströpfchen, © Stephanie Schubert
Blutströpfchen, © Stephanie Schubert


Biosphere reserves are part of the UNESCO programme “Man and the Biosphere”. In these model regions the coexistence of man and nature is tested and implemented in an exemplary manner. Their mission is to protect cultural landscapes and important habitats for man and nature from destructive interference. This includes achieving a balance between human use and natural cycles in biosphere reserves. Germany’s currently 16 official UNESCO biosphere reserves are home to regionally very different historically developed ecological diversity. Five of these areas are now to be developed into model landscapes in which insect protection and land use are integrated.


Coordinating project partner: WWF Germany

b.c. Partners: Nationale Naturlandschaften e. V., Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development (HNEE)

Further project partners: Leibniz-Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF) e. V.

Project duration: 2020-2025

Financed by: Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) with funds from the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU)


More information about the project and contact persons can be found on the websites of the project partners:


Nationale Naturlandschaften e. V.

ZALF e. V.