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Macro indicators for the state of the environment

Principal Investigator:
[Projektleitung verlinken]

Gesamtprojektleitung: Dr. Karl Schoer (Statistisches Bundesamt)

Research Team:

Andreas Corsten

Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)
Jan 01, 1998 — Jun 30, 2001
Contact Person:
Prof. Dr. Martin Jänicke


Statistisches Bundesamt Wiesbaden
Ökologiezentrum Kiel
Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin (WZB)

In the research project "Agricultural Landscape and Agricultural Ecosystems", indicators of the environmental status were developed for Germany on the basis of environmental condition. The primary objective was to determine the quite high number of individual indicators to reduce output by suitable methods to a manageable set of macro indicators. The approach should be transferable to other ecosystems. The following functional, structural and material indicators which are to be understood as complementary in their statements have been designed:

On the basis of ecosystem theories, a set of eight functional indicators were selected, among other things "emitted by the system to the environment and no longer usable energy (entropy), biotic diversity, the storage capacity or nutrient losses".

From a structural standpoint, the three macro indicators use intensity, structure diversity and rarity / endangerment on the scale level of the landscape through aggregation of indicators of the ecological area sampling.

Indicators for material impairment of agricultural ecosystems were also formed by aggregation: The description of toxic contamination by four macro indicators, such as for organic pollutants (POPs). Further indicators were designed to eutrophication and ozone pollution. A cross-thematic aggregation proved to be not useful.

The agreggation of indicators to highly aggregated statements about ecosystems and landscapes was made against the background of existing models and objectives. Thus, the political demand for a concise action set of environmental indicators paid its price. The prerequisite for this was that explicit reference was made to set normative preferences in the construction of the indicators. The organization of a constructive dialogue between science and society actors was the focus of the project. For this purpose, a network of scientific knowledge, statistical methods and social science approaches has been forged. The implementation of the developed macro indicators is based on the target groups and public policy. The transfer of information can be improved by an advanced data situation and a political communication strategy.