Indicators and conservation policy: the German Sustainability Indicator for Species Diversity as an example

Dröschmeister R., Sukopp U.

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Bird monitoring data provide the basis for biodiversity policy related indicators in Germany. Such indicators focus on informing conservation policy and aim to reduce complex biological information to simple and easily understandable messages of political concern. The leading national conservation policy indicator is the German Sustainability Indicator for Species Diversity (SISD), which reflects the status of sustainability in the main habitat and landscape types. SISD summarizes the trends in abundance of 59 selected, representative breeding bird species. The issue of sustainability becomes part of the indicator construction by defning target values: an expert panel has determined a target value for every single bird species, which should be attained by 2015, provided that the guidelines for sustainable development and nature conservation are completely implemented. After standardisation of the population sizes at 100 % for the 2015 goal for all selected species, the deviation in percentage from those values can be computed for any individual year. Sub­indicators of each habitat type (farmland, forests, settlements, inland waters, coast/sea, Alps) are calculated. The SISD starts in 1990 and is updated annually. For 1970 and 1975, historical reference values were reconstructed. In 2006, SISD was at 70 % in relation to the target for 2015, showing a constant trend. To reach the target in time, sustainability policy must be strengthened signifcantly. SISD is used for assessment of sustainability and biodiversity issues in the German National Sustainability Strategy, the programme to support rural development (ELER), and the German National Strategy on Biological Diversity.