Global Social Impact Initiative

The approach of creating biotope networks has been developed by German Biology Professor Peter Berthold. It aims to combat the loss of biodiversity through creating renatured landscapes not far from each other so that animals can move between them.
The following information has been gathered through an interview with Professor Peter Berthold and the website of the Heinz Sielmann Foundation: 

1. What problem do you tackle?

„Saving biodiversity is crucial for our survival! We cannot survive without a diversity of species.“  The approach of nature protection areas is insufficient, there are to less. In 1988, a new concept arose creating biotope networks making it possible for animals like birds to move between them. According to Professor Berthold 10-15% of Germany should become a part of this approach, currently 2-3% are covered by his team in cooperation with the Heinz Sielmann Foundation. Once a year we lose 1% of the amount of our birds, compared to the year 1800 we have lost about 80% of the birds. In the last 20 years we have also lost about 80% of the amount of our insects.
A biotope like a pond increases the richness in species: In 2004 the first pond has been created called Heinz Sielmann Pond; before there was a cornfield. In the year 2004-2018 an increase of 40% in terms of bird species and a broader variety of insects, i.e. dragonflys, have been observed.

2. What is your approach?

To enhance the species diversity it is essential to create a dense network of biotops all over the country so that the loss of biodiversity can be turned back. 

3. How many people do you employ?

Prof. Berhold has a team of 5 members, at the Heinz Sielmann Foundation additional people work on the project. With his team of 5 he has worked on 150 projects, and spent 10 million euros within the last 20 years.

4. How much money do you need to solve the problem in the country you operate? (estimate)

To build up a network of biotops every 10 kilometres in Germany, which is recommended at least by Professor Berthold, an amount of 1 billion euros would be required.

5. How much time would it take and what other ressources would be required?

The biggest challenge is to gain municipalities for his approach. Most of them claim not to have any space for renaturation due to the fact that the competitors are biogas plants, solar energy plants and agriculture. At least the solar energy plants should be built on stilts, so that they are high enough to enable the use of the land below for renaturation. This is done sometimes, but to slowly and to less. 1-2 hectare should be calculated for a biotope.

6. What would be the next steps, if you got the money for solving it nationally?

If Professor Berhold got the money of one billion euros he would contact every municipality in Germany and send each of the ones wanting to cooperate the required money in order to set up a local biotope network. One biotope (like a pond) costs about 500.000 euros. Additionally he would offer his support to set up a such a network.

7. Contact information

Prof. Peter Berthold:
Heinz Sielmann Foundation:
(Website is available in English)