For humans and the environment – the functions of the Ministry
Nature conservation and landscape management
The goal of Bavaria’s nature conservation policy is to maintain and further develop the biodiversity, habitat diversity and recreational value of our landscape. A decent future for us and for subsequent generations – that is our aim. We are pursing this goal with the aid of a large number of experts in the Ministry for the Environment, the highest nature conservation body in the State, in the higher nature conservation authorities of the seven Bavarian administrative regional governments and in a total of 96 subordinate nature conservation authorities in various municipal districts and cities, in the State Office for the Environment (Landesamt für Umwelt, LfU) and the Academy for Nature Conservation and Landscape Management (Akademie für Naturschutz und Landschaftspflege, ANL). The BayernNetzNatur network covers more than 30 percent of the territory of Bavaria, encompassing two national parks, 589 nature reserves, 698 landscape conservation areas and 18 wildlife parks. Thanks to the Bavarian Biodiversity Strategy, passed on April 1st 2008 by the Council of Ministers, Bavaria now has valid objectives for all departments with regard to the preservation of our Bavarian biodiversity.
Water management and flood control
DWater management in Bavaria consists mainly of protecting water as part of the ecosystem and a habitat for animals and plans, making it possible for people to use water responsibly and protecting them from water-related hazards. Specialists at the Ministry of the Environment, the 17 regional water authorities (Wasserwirtschaftsämter), the State Office for the Environment (Landesamt für Umwelt), in the 7 administrative regional governments and in 96 municipal districts and cities are committed to making this possible. In combination with a functional (water) infrastructure, water management will secure the basis of our quality of life in the long term.
Soil protection and legacy contamination
As an important basis of life for humans and nature, the soil must be protected and passed on to following generations in the best possible condition. In order to make this possible, it is essential to prevent or at least reduce the input of substances into the environment, minimise land use, erosion and structural changes and protect natural resources. Particular emphasis is placed on the reclamation and decontamination of contaminated sites and harmful changes in the soil. The Geological Service of the Bavarian State Office for the Environment records comprehensive regional geoscientific information, processes data and cartography information and operates a soil information system (Bodeninformationssystem / BIS). The measurement and examination of mass movements in Alpine regions and the work of the Bavarian Seismological Service allows us to take preventive measures to protect against natural hazards.
Air pollution control in Bavaria
Improving the quality of our air and providing for a stable climate is one of our most important tasks. Cleaner air can only be achieved through reducing the emission levels of pollutants and monitoring air quality. Bavaria has made impressive progress in air pollution control: we have dramatically reduced emissions and pollution caused by significantly harmful substances, particularly sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide and benzene. Since 1974, the Ministry for the Environment has been operating the world’s first fully automatic air quality monitoring network – the Bavarian Monitoring System for Air Quality (Lufthygienische Landesüberwachungssystem Bayern / LÜB), with over 50 monitoring stations and a number of measuring vehicles.
Global warming continues to progress: the consequences are particularly tangible in a very local sense in the Alps. As a result, climate protection remains a major challenge for the 21st Century. In order to combat climate change, Bavaria is concentrating on reducing CO2 emissions, adapting to the consequences of climate change and carrying out research.
Bavarian climate policy is based on close cooperation with society and with the business community. The Bavarian Climate Alliance (Bayerische Klima-Allianz) provides Bavaria with a platform for promoting awareness of the task of climate protection, which can only be accomplished through the work of generations. The “Climate protection Programme 2050" will sketch out a sustainable path towards successful climate protection. The Bavarian Climatic Adaptation Strategy (Bayerische Klima-Anpassungsstrategie) is being refined for regional use in businesses and municipalities. Climate research forms the basis of these discussions. Through its active role concerning this topic, Bavaria is also shaping the international exchange.
Recycling and waste management
Modern waste management is aimed at keeping people and the environment safe from harm through a high level of environmental expertise and thereby contributing to the efficient use of raw material resources. The core tasks in this respect include the reliable disposal of pollutants and the extraction of secondary raw materials. On the basis of the new German Waste Management and Product Recycling Act (Kreislaufwirtschaftsgesetz), Bavaria’s waste management practice is founded on a five-level hierarchy of objectives ranging from waste prevention, preparing for re-use and further recycling to waste disposal. Thanks to major efforts in terms of policy, citizens, bodies responsible for waste collection and the economy, it has been possible to establish a future-oriented circular economy with high recycling rates. This in turn contributes to services of general interest and is an important location factor for our high-tech industries.
Noise is virtually omnipresent and a great many people feel that they are affected by it. We are all, however, also producers of noise, and many noises are only considered noise pollution if they disturb us, consciously or subconsciously. Noise control is one of the focal points of our policy. Yet this can only be achieved if every citizen takes personal responsibility and contributes towards making his or her environment less noisy.
Biotechnology and genetic engineering
Genetic engineering applications in laboratories (e.g. for research or medical purposes) are accepted by the vast majority of people. By contrast, the use of genetic engineering in agriculture and the production of genetically modified foods are meeting with rejection amongst large sections of the population. The State Ministry is the highest supervisory authority for the enforcement of the German Genetic Engineering Act (Gentechnikgesetz) in Bavaria. The main focus in this regard is always on the safety of humans and the environment. The regional governments of Upper and Lower Franconia are responsible for supervising and enforcing the observance of this legislation in southern and northern Bavaria respectively. The genetic engineering monitoring laboratory of the Bavarian Health and Food Safety Authority (Bayerisches Landesamt für Gesundheit und Lebensmittelsicherheit/ LGL), founded in 1992 as the first of its kind in Germany, makes a significant contribution to these efforts.
Every day, we use electrical devices or mobile phones in our private or professional lives. However, modern technology creates electrical, magnetic or electromagnetic fields. The resultant “electrosmog" is the subject of much controversial discussion in the media and in the public sphere.
Nonetheless, the fields that arise within our living environments and within the environment in general remain far below the limits defined in the German Ordinance on Electromagnetic Fields (Verordnung über elektromagnetische Felder), which are were established in accordance with the recommendations of the World Health Organisation.
Therefore, for many years, the Bavarian State Government has been focusing on a concept of transparency, supported by information, measurements, dialogue and citizen involvement.
Nuclear energy, radiation protection, decommissioning
The State Ministry is Bavaria’s highest nuclear energy licensing and supervisory authority for the construction, operation, decommissioning and dismantling of plants based on nuclear technology. The Ministry for the Environment also oversees the use of nuclear fuels outside of these plants and monitors the state collection facilities used for the temporary storage of radioactive waste from medical, research and industrial facilities. The Ministry checks and monitors the safety of the four Bavarian nuclear power plants, the research reactor at the Technische Universität München (Technical University of Munich) and the Isar 1 nuclear power plant, which is currently being decommissioned and dismantled. Amongst other tools and systems, it uses an automatic nuclear reactor remote monitoring system for this purpose. As the highes radiation protection authority in Bavaria, the Ministry also takes responsibility for the processing and transportation of radioactive substances and for precautionary radiation protection.
Safe food, i.e. food that is free of health risks and correctly labelled, is at the forefront of consumer interests. In addition to manufacturers and retailers, food safety is also ensured through the work of food control authorities. In addition to the Ministry for Consumer Protection (Verbraucherschutzministerium), which is the most senior food control authority, these authorities also include the regional governments and local authorities, with their official veterinarians and food inspectors. These receive professional support from the Health and Food Safety Authority.
Animal health and animal welfare
Maintaining, promoting and restoring the health of animals is an important objective of the Bavarian State Ministry for the Environment and Consumer Protection. The heath of livestock has a direct impact on human health through the foodstuffs they produce. However, producers also suffer considerable economic consequences as a result of animal diseases, which can develop into epidemics. Last but not least, the concept of animal welfare means that humans have a social responsibility towards all animals.
Sustainable development in Bavaria
Sustainability forms both the guiding principle and the framework around which the policy of the Bavarian State Parliament is oriented. Under the auspices of the State Ministry for the Environment and Consumer Protection, the Parliament has developed the cross-divisional Bavarian Sustainability Strategy (Bayerische Nachhaltigkeitsstrategie). During this process, a total of ten action areas for sustainable development in Bavaria were identified and objectives defined for 2020 with respect to each area. Thus, the State Ministry for the Environment and Consumer Protection is committed to sustainable development in Bavarian businesses, society and municipalities, for example through the network of sustainable communities, through promoting education for sustainable development and environmental education and through the Bavarian Environmental Pact (Umweltpakt Bayern).
The environment and the economy
Through the Bavarian Environmental Pact, the Bavarian State Government and the Bavarian business community have committed to the guiding principle of sustainable development. The Bavarian Environmental Pact is an agreement between the Bavarian State Government and the Bavarian business community. This agreement is of a voluntary nature and is founded on the principles of personal responsibility and cooperation. In the Environmental Pact, the Bavarian State Government and the Bavarian business community have declared their express belief that our natural resources can be protected more effectively with the aid of voluntary, reliable cooperation between the state authorities and the business community than through legislation and regulations alone.
Global trade, globalisation and the EU Single Market offer consumers unprecedented possibilities and freedom, but also require the responsible handling of these options and, in some cases, also necessitate legal protective measures. Bavarian consumer policy is meeting this challenge by developing an environment in which consumers can take advantage of the opportunities available, but can also be protected from any harm or unfair treatment. Therefore, Bavarian consumer policy strengthens the autonomy of the consumer and ensures that state protection is available where it is needed. We enable consumers to make independent, self-determined decisions under all circumstances through consumer information and education. Where necessary, we rely on effective checks by the Bavarian authorities. Our goal is to include all actors, but particularly all consumer associations and the business community, in our measures.
The European Union and international collaboration
The State Ministry maintains relationships with other regions and states within Europe and all over the world. Focal points for collaboration with non-European countries include the transfer of know-how and the support of sustainable development with the aim of improving environmental and consumer protection standards and preserving natural resources beyond the borders of Bavaria. The main objective of contact with EU institutions is to ensure that Bavarian concerns are included in European policies and legislation. Inversely, EU structures and funding instruments are used to strengthen environmental and consumer protection in Bavaria (and also beyond the borders of Bavaria).