Plant and animal diversity and healthy ecosystems are the basis of our existence. And yet biodiversity is declining worldwide. Digital methods can help to identify species or to record and evaluate the status of populations and habitats – this information can then be used to develop recommendations for action.
The National Centre for Biodiversity Monitoring, which is scheduled to open in 2020, aims to provide information on the state of biodiversity in Germany and how it has changed. A similarly networked equivalent is planned at European level.
Tap potential of digitally supported precision agriculture
One of the main reasons for the decline in diversity is the intensification of agriculture. Digitally supported precision agriculture should therefore reconcile the interests of nature conservation and environmental protection with agricultural interests. This includes greater transparency in production, simplified implementation and compliance with environmental conditions and the use of fertiliser and pesticides in accordance with weather conditions and as needed. Smaller equipment can replace heavy machinery and high resolution satellite images can help organise agricultural areas to be more in harmony with nature.
Access to data, networking and platforms
To ensure that agriculture 4.0 supports environmental protection and nature conservation, access to and networking of data are important. A good example of sustainable and location-specific digital support of land management is the Open Source GeoBox initiative of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate. The platform links company data with public data on climate, weather, soil, water and other environmental conditions. This helps farmers take decisions to ensure that production is environmentally sound and resource efficient.
As a contribution to sustainable land management with an integrated landscape assessment, the BMU is also planning regional living laboratories that will explore new digital ecosystem services.
Digital water management for better general public services
There are also digital solutions to address the challenges of the German water management sector: more efficient operations, saving and recovery of energy and resources and digital planning processes for construction and maintenance of water management infrastructure. Digital technologies can improve cost efficiency and service quality, enforcement, safety and reliability in water supply and wastewater disposal as well as in protection from flooding and low water levels. The BMU will work together with the other federal authorities and the federal states to set up a web-based information system on low water levels.
In the framework of its lighthouse projects, the BMU supports the Future Forest project that is examining different forest conversion scenarios. To this end, the project aggregates and evaluates environmental and weather data as well as data on pest development and air pollution. Decision-making aids to help achieve sustainable forest conversion will then be developed based on the project findings.