In a referendum which has taken place over the past few weeks, Bavarian biodiversity has been the focus of an ongoing petition, seeing up to a million people voting to address environmental concerns.
Bavarian biodiversity is as rich and diverse as the landscape itself. With a wealth of natural beauty, floral and fauna, this ecosystem plays host to a vast range of birds, mammals and insects; all of which are the focus of the new proposed ruling. In Germany at present there are 48,000 different animal species; 33,000 of which are insects.
The Volksbegehren biodiversity was confirmed on Tuesday, February 12th by Agnes Becker (ÖDP), representative of the referendum. It was outlined that more than one million people had registered in a bid to see more sustainable and effective conservation laws introduced to the south German state. Four pages of amendments were included in the petition, which attained the necessary ten per cent needed to proceed.
Thomas Pickel was one of the founders of the referendum; a 27 year old student in the University of Bayreuth, he recently spoke about the origins of it in Global Change Ecology.
Pickel states that the impetus for change came about in October 2017, following a study which highlighted the potential eradication of almost 75% of all insects; even those in protected areas. Together with eight other students, Pickel founded “Summer in the City”, a club for biodiversity protection based in Bayreuth, along with a number of other students. Their focus was to redirect attention from the more commonly cited animals earmarked for conservation, and place it upon insects and smaller creatures.
“This was when we said we have to do something”, says Pickel. “Over the years, conservationists have tried to get the public’s attention to the species decline. They chose symbolic animals to spread the message, like the White Stork or the wolf. It’s kind of ironic that the smallest animals, the insects, are getting the attention now.”
“Insects might be small, but they make up a huge part of biomass and are incredibly important,” adds Pickel. Bees have been a particular focus of the referendum so far, with petitioners dressing in colorful bee costumes in several major Bavarian cities.
Awareness campaigns have been a big part of the referendum, with the ‘Save the Bees‘ group gaining particular attention in Munich, after a petition drive turned into an attempt to set a world record (for ‘sustained mass buzzing‘). It was this drive which played a significant role in the latest developments.
The most significant impact will be felt among the agricultural industry, which faces certain changes relating to hedge cutting laws but, more significantly, also seeks to increase the level of organic farming within the state to 30% by 2030. This would mean that chemical fertilizers and pesticides would no longer be permitted for use within this percentage.
Green Party politician, Hans-Josef Fell, stated; “In Bavaria there are many people who are actively engaged in protecting nature. They all see that humans are causing a dramatic disappearance of species in the world, the likes of which haven’t occurred on the planet since the extinction of the dinosaurs. They all want to counter that loss of biodiversity.”
According to SZ.de; ‘The official numbers will be submitted by the Land Returning Officer on Thursday (Feb 14th). And in the end they could be even higher, as many municipalities were missing in the overview of the initiators. In Munich alone, nearly 148,000 people had registered on the lists by Monday evening – this corresponds to a rate of 16.18 percent.’