Bavaria - A State with a Future
Responsibility for Nature and the Environment
Bavaria is blessed with wonderful landscapes and untouched nature. The Bavarian forests, mountains, rivers and lakes are home to an impressive variety of animals and plants, of which many species can only be found in Bavaria. An intact nature and a protected environment mean healthy living conditions and recreation in natural surroundings for human beings as well. They also mean responsibility.
So that nature and the environment can also be preserved for future generations, Bavaria sets great store by the conservation of our natural surroundings. Early on, Bavaria set high standards for environmental protection. It was the first state in Germany to incorporate environmental protection in its constitution and pass its own conservation law. The first ministry of the environment in Europe was established in Bavaria. And the "Nationalpark Bayerischer Wald" (Bavarian Forest National Park) was the first national park in Germany.
There are two national parks in Bavaria: the Bavarian Forest National Park and the Alpine National Park around Berchtesgaden. Together they cover an area of 450 square kilometres (c. 180 square miles), and - just like the Rhön - they have been recognised by UNESCO as biosphere reservations. In addition there are 600 nature reserves covering a total of 1,570 square kilometres (nearly 630 square miles) and sixteen nature parks totalling 20,000 square kilometres (c. 8,000 square miles). All in all nature reserves account for more than 30 per cent of the land in Bavaria.
With 20,500 square kilometres (c. 10,000 square miles) of forests, Bavaria has the largest proportion of woodland in the Federal Republic. About one third of the state is covered by forests. Forests and woodland are part of a healthy nature and environment. It protects the land from flooding and avalanches, it purifies the air and the water, it provides a habitat for animals and plants, and it helps create a balanced climate.
Umweltpakt Bayern (The Bavarian Environmental Pact)
Bavaria is a pioneer in environmental protection. The idea is that the state and industry decide on concrete projects for environmental protection. The goal is to achieve more for the environment. In 1995 Bavaria became the first state in Europe to put into practice an innovative concept for co-operative environmental protection.
Bavaria's environmental policies are successful because environmental protection is achieved not merely by laws and regulations, but also by voluntary commitments on the part of industry and business in Bavaria. This is unbureaucratic and promotes growth. More than 3,500 firms in Bavaria are currently involved in the ‘Umweltpakt' and practise environmental protection out of conviction, for example by increasingly using recycled products, or by employing alternative sources of energy, or by taking steps to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions. By now the ‘Umweltpakt' has become a successful export and is being copied by numerous other states and organisations both in Germany and abroad. The ‘Umweltpakt' in Bavaria is constantly being updated and expanded to include new partners and projects.