© DUH
The worldwide sprawl of cities is one of the prime causes for the loss of biodiversity. More than half of the world’s population is currently living in urban areas which occupy only 2 % of earth’s surface but are at the same time responsible for the use of more than three quarters of all natural resources. This is a great influence on worldwide biodiversity beyond the geographical borders of cities and communities.

Of course communities are using the capacities of ecosystems and natural resources in many different forms. Accordingly, they are encroaching on the ecological balance of areas as well. Therefore, they are economically reliant upon the preservation of biodiversity. Simultaneously, communities and cities often have – at least in central Europe – a high biological diversity, which means that there is a great responsibility for the preservation of this biodiversity. At the same time, proactive actions on biodiversity-protection benefit the quality of life of citizens.

© Stadtverwaltung Bad Saulgau,
 Thomas Lehenherr
On the one hand, communities can influence the general framework of biodiversity promoting frameworks by using measures and enactments. On the other hand, they have to comply with legal regulations and can take action for biodiversity measures beyond that. A strategic and long-term planning is the key for a sustainable and efficient protection of the local biodiversity. For communities, the EMAS environmental management system offers an instrument for a continuous improvement of the own environmental performance. Within the framework of the management process, however, mainly environmental factors like the consumption of resources and pollutant emissions are brought into focus. Aspects of biological diversity are yet represented by the indicator land consumption. Indeed, land consumption is rated as one of the main reasons for the loss of biological diversity, but communities can contribute to the preservation of biological diversity with more than just "reducing land use”. The German Environmental Aid has arranged a Fact Sheet (in German) which especially addresses the degradation of ecosystems, the overuse of natural resources and invasive species and describes the direct and indirect scopes of influence a community can take.

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