Federal Nature Conservation Act

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Basic data
Title: Law on nature protection and landscape management
Short title: Federal Nature Conservation Act
Abbreviation: BNatSchG
Type: Federal law
Scope: Federal Republic of Germany
Legal matter: Special administrative law , environmental law
References : 791-9
Original version from: December 20, 1976
( BGBl. I p. 3573, 3574 , ber. 1977 I p. 650 )
Entry into force on: December 24, 1976
Last revision from: July 29, 2009
( BGBl. I p. 2542 )
Entry into force of the
new version on:
March 1, 2010
Last change by: Art. 290 Regulation of June 19, 2020
( Federal Law Gazette I p. 1328, 1362 )
Effective date of the
last change:
June 27, 2020
(Art. 361 of June 19, 2020)
Weblink: Text of the law
Please note the note on the applicable legal version.

In the Federal Republic of Germany, the Federal Nature Conservation Act (BNatSchG) forms the legal basis for nature and landscape as protected assets and for nature conservation and landscape management measures . It came into force in its original version in December 1976 and replaced the Reich Nature Conservation Act of 1935 that had been in force until then . After German reunification , it replaced the GDR's State Culture Law (1970) in the new federal states .

Goal setting

In the initial provisions, the law defines the goals and principles for nature conservation and landscape management and establishes the connection to the European nature conservation program " Natura 2000 ". Everyone is asked to "contribute to the realization of the goals and principles of nature conservation and landscape management according to their possibilities and to behave in such a way that nature and landscape are not impaired more than is unavoidable under the circumstances" ( § 2 ) .

Most important regulatory areas and contents

The best known impact of nature conservation laws are nature reserves . Regardless of their great importance, nature conservation must be carried out across the board. That is why the regulations that apply to areas that are not specifically dedicated to nature conservation are mentioned here in the first place.

Chapter 1 General Regulations

Chapter 1 ( §§ 1 to 7 ) regulates the general regulations.


The agriculture is the one sector that acts most in the area, often adjacent to natural areas and processes natural areas. That is why it is of great importance for the realization of the goals of nature conservation that it adapts to its requirements to a certain extent. Section 5 of the law makes this an obligation by establishing principles of so-called “ good professional practice ”, d. H. Conservation-compatible agricultural methods. This regulation was only achieved in 2003 after many years of disputes with the agricultural interest groups; it represents a significant step forward for the goals of nature conservation.

The term “good professional practice” comes from the regulations of the plant protection and fertilizer law, where it was used back in the 1980s.


In § 7 some definitions are given, including a. the definition of the specially and strictly protected species (see article on species protection ).

Chapter 2 Environmental observation, landscape planning

Chapter 2 ( §§ 8 to 12 ) regulates the environmental observation , tasks of landscape planning , contents of landscape planning, landscape programs and landscape framework plans , landscape plans as well as cooperation of the federal states in the planning.

Chapter 3 General protection of nature and landscape (intervention regulation)

Avoidable interventions in nature and the landscape are to be refrained from; unavoidable interventions must be compensated by compensatory or substitute measures ( § 15 BNatSchG). If such compensation is not possible, the intervention is prohibited if the interests of nature conservation take precedence over other interests. The "intervention" is defined by Section 14 (1) BNatSchG as "changes in the shape or use of areas or changes in the groundwater level associated with the living soil layer, which can significantly impair the performance and functionality of the natural balance or the landscape". The reference to the groundwater level serves to protect wetlands and dry areas (including their special flora and fauna) and, indirectly, to keep the groundwater clean in the interests of water supply .

Site planning and plan approval

The land-use planning must also take into account nature conservation issues. Section 1a Paragraph 3 in conjunction with Section 1 Paragraph 6 No. 7 lit. a BauGB provides for the avoidance and compensation of likely significant impairments of the landscape as well as the performance and functionality of the natural balance in the master plan. In particular, the effects on animals, plants, soil, water, air, climate and the structure of effects between them, as well as the landscape and biological diversity, must be taken into account when drawing up the plan (in the planning process). The nature conservation law intervention regulation does not apply in this respect ( § 18 BNatschG); rather, preventive planning must ensure that interference in nature and the landscape is kept as low as possible and, as far as possible, balanced (so-called building law compromise ). The protection of certain areas (such as landscape protection or nature protection areas ) is to be considered as "other use regulation " or "determination" according to Section 5, Paragraph 4, Section 9, Paragraph 6 of the BauGB to be included for information in the master plan.

Some projects, such as the construction of traffic routes or large power plants, in most cases require a plan approval procedure in which the interests of nature conservation are incorporated through the involvement of the responsible nature conservation authorities in accordance with Section 73 (2) VwVfG. When weighing up the interests of use and the interests of nature conservation, however, the latter often run the risk of being “weighed out”, as critics put it. However, this problem lies less in the law or a properly carried out assessment than in the decision-making structures, criteria (sometimes too short justification content for the respective decision) and personnel of individual authorities.

Chapter 4 Protection, maintenance and development of certain parts of nature and landscape ( area protection )

The law provides for different categories of protected areas as well as the protection of certain individual objects. The character of these areas is described in separate articles:

Section 1 Biotope network and biotope network

As far as possible, these areas should not exist in isolation from one another, but rather be networked with one another in a biotope network and cover at least ten percent of the total land area.

Section 2 "Natura 2000" network

The federal government and the federal states fulfill the obligations arising from the Habitats and Birds Protection Directive to set up and protect the coherent European ecological network Natura 2000 .

This section also defines the procedure for designating FFH and bird protection areas and checking the compatibility and permissibility of measures in Natura 2000 areas.

Chapter 5 Protection and care of wild animal and plant species ( species protection )

In Chapter 5 ( Sections 37 to 55 ) the Federal Nature Conservation Act contains numerous regulations on species protection:

  • The section on general species protection ( Sections 39 to 43 ) contains the regulations that apply to all animal and plant species. For example, Section 39 stipulates that hedges and trees to protect birds from breeding may not be cut between March 1 and September 30.
  • The section on special species protection ( Sections 44 to 47 ) contains regulations that affect certain animal and plant species. Here, as in the case of sanctions (see Chapter 10), a distinction is made between specially and strictly protected species:

Chapter 6 Marine Nature Conservation

Chapter 6 ( Sections 56 to 58 ) regulates nature conservation in German coastal waters as well as areas of the German exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf.

Chapter 7 Recreation in nature and landscape

Chapter 7 ( Sections 59 to 62 ) contains regulations on recreation in nature and the landscape.

Chapter 8 Participation of associations

The 2002 amendment to the Federal Nature Conservation Act expanded the opportunities and rights of nature conservation associations to participate . They will be heard - provided they have been formally recognized - before nature conservation ordinances are issued and in the context of plan approval procedures . However, this regulation only applies to the area of ​​the federal authorities. The respective state nature conservation law applies to the vast majority of such procedures carried out by state authorities . The class action quite binding was regulated by federal law (formerly countries thing). Since 2010 these regulations can be found in chapter 8 ( §§ 63 and 64 )

Chapter 9 Supplementary Regulations

Additional regulations can be found in Chapter 9 ( Sections 65 to 68 ).

Chapter 10 Administrative fines and penalties

Regulations on fines and penalties can be found in Chapter 10 ( Sections 69 to 73 ).

Historical development of the BNatSchG

After the end of the Nazi regime, the Reich Nature Conservation Act (RNG) passed on June 26, 1935 remained valid in the Federal Republic of Germany from 1949 with the exception of Section 24. In the period that followed, the federal states created their own nature conservation laws. From the demand for an improvement in nature conservation law, as nature conservation associations strived for, and the efforts of academically anchored land management and administrative nature conservation, an intensive discussion about a new, more comprehensive nature conservation law followed from the 1960s. Controversial points in the drafting of the bill were z. B. the so-called agriculture clause and the compensation scheme . Finally, in 1976, a framework law to which the nature conservation laws of the federal states had to be adapted was passed and came into force on January 1, 1977.

Since then, it has been changed several times, taking into account developments in environmental law such as international agreements and changes in European Union law as well as new accompanying environmental laws (such as the UVPG ). With the accession of the new federal states to the national territory of the Federal Republic of Germany, it replaced the state culture law in these . After an initial amendment in 2002, it was revised in 2010 due to the federalism reform. Until the federalism reform, the Federal Nature Conservation Act was largely based on the competence of Article 75 of the old version of the Basic Law on federal framework legislation . Whereas the state nature conservation laws previously provided the framework and also contained directly effective regulations, it now mainly contains directly effective rules, which are supplemented in the (meanwhile renewed) state laws, in particular by implementing provisions.

See also


  • Erich Gassner, Michael Heugel: The new nature conservation law. BNatSchG amendment 2010 • Intervention regulation • Legal protection , 2010, Verlag CH Beck, ISBN 978-3-406-60043-2
  • Robert von Landmann, Gustav Rohmer: Environmental Law. Comment . Loose-leaf commentary , vol. IV: Miscellaneous environmental law : BNatSchG, 56th supplementary delivery, Munich 2009, Verlag CH Beck (also as an online commentary at beck-online )
  • Stefan Lütkes, Wolfgang Ewer : BNatSchG. Commentary , 1st edition, Munich 2011, Verlag CH Beck, ISBN 978-3-406-60552-9
  • Hans-Jürgen Müggenborg, Anja Hentschel: New water and nature conservation law . NJW 2010, 961
  • Jochen Schumacher, Peter Fischer-Hüftle: Federal Nature Conservation Act . Comment. 2nd Edition. Verlag W. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2011, ISBN 978-3-17-021257-2
  • Walter Frenz , Hans-Jürgen Müggenborg: BNatSchG Commentary , 1st edition 2011, Erich Schmidt Verlag, ISBN 978-3-503-12665-1

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Erich Gassner et al .: Federal Nature Conservation Act. Comment. Beck, Munich 2003, ISBN 978-3-406-45848-4 .
  2. to the definitions § 7 para. 2 no. 13 and 14 BNatSchG
  3. Karsten Runge: Development tendencies in landscape planning. From early nature conservation to ecologically sustainable land use. Springer, Berlin 1998, ISBN 978-3-540-64599-3 .
  4. Erich Gassner and Michael Heugel: The new nature conservation law. Beck, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-406-60043-2 .