GIZ/Mulugeta Gebrekidan


International Day for Biological Diversity: nature conservation and species protection are essential for human survival

Species extinction poses a threat not only to flora and fauna, but also to humankind. That’s why GIZ is committed to conserving biodiversity worldwide.

Every day, up to 150 animal and plant species are lost, changing ecosystems irrevocably to the detriment of nature, the climate and humanity. Ingrid-Gabriela Hoven, Managing Director of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, explains how it is all interconnected: ‘Healthy ecosystems provide food, medicines and habitats and also prevent impacts of climate change such as flooding. That’s why we need to look after the planet’s ecosystems, for nature and for human survival.’ On top of that, by protecting biodiversity, we are also protecting ourselves against pandemics. Most infectious diseases jump from animals to humans, especially in places where people are destroying nature and invading animal habitats.

Worldwide protection for forests and species

GIZ is committed to protecting biodiversity around the world. One of its priorities are natural forests and areas. Last year alone, GIZ helped to improve the conservation of some 600,000 square kilometres of nature reserves – an area roughly the size of France. Around six million people benefited from these measures, for example through the area where they live being better protected against the effects of climate change. Moreover, the measures create and safeguard income-generating opportunities. ‘For sustainable nature conservation to succeed, it is essential that local people are involved. If that is the case, nature, animals and people all stand to benefit,’ says Ingrid-Gabriela Hoven.

Ethiopia: silk, not firewood

An example from Ethiopia demonstrates how this can work. In the southern part of the country, women traditionally collect firewood and sell it in the market. There are often no other means of making a living. But it is harmful both for the forests and for people, as it is not only illegal, but also dangerous because of the wild animals living in the national park.


In the villages on the outskirts of the national park, GIZ is working on behalf of the German Development Ministry to help the villagers use the forests more sustainably. It supports them in making silk for the local market instead of collecting firewood. This way, they can earn a legal, safe and nature-conserving living for themselves and their families. The women breed the silkworms in a small section of the forest only, which they also strip of harmful plants, thereby contributing to protecting the national park. GIZ has also organised training in silk production techniques, provided equipment such as spinning wheels and established contact to a local business that sells silk. The women’s income has increased several times over as a result.

Watch this video to find out how the forest is being protected while the villagers’ lives have changed at the same time:

A silk thread of hope