Naturplus-Standard

The Naturplus-Standard contains criteria for designing efficient nature conservation projects that aim to provide biodiversity and ecosystem services. A certification procedure will determine whether a certain project meets the criteria. If this procedure proved, the certification succeeds and the project acquires certificates which can be sold. In this case, a contract ensures that the services will be provided. These certificates are thus an innovative tool for financing nature conservation activities.

The Naturplus-Standard was developed by peers from the fields of science, agriculture and nature conservation and is open to use by all interested stakeholders. The methods behind the inquiry and review of a project’s effects and services shall be successively tested and further developed. Scientists in particular are invited to participate in this process.

The Criteria
The Naturplus-Standard contains a universally applicable catalogue of criteria. These describe specific requirements for the development of projects and methods, as well as regulations for measuring, reporting and verifying the services provided for biodiversity and the ecosystem. The Standard aims to provide quantifiable factors for services as far as possible.

Currently numerous details about contents and processes of the application of the Naturplus-Standard are being settled. The results will be made available soon in the form of a handout.

The criteria are at the stage of being tested and are thus being further developed where necessary.

Criteria of the Naturplus-Standard (last update 25.06.2019)

1. Field of Validity

The Standard is valid for certification of clearly defined activities and projects, in the following summarized as (hereafter referred to as „projects“). They aim at the conservation and/or the development of biodiversity and connected ecosystem services (hereafter referred to as „ecosystem services“).

The Standard sets criteria for the projects, their implementation and the documentation and measurement of ecosystem services. Based on these criteria, the planned projects, their activities and the expected ecosystem services are certified.

The certificates generated in this process are not valid for other markets (Eingriffs-Ausgleichs-Regelung, EU-ETS).

2. Register
Sold certificates are registered in a document which is publically available.

3. Project Providers
Landowners, land users and any kind of project sponsor can have their projects certified and offer the certificates generated therefrom.

4. Additionality of the projects
The projects’ activities and ecosystem services are additional. They go beyond lawful regulations and subsidies to achieve improvement. Conservation and development projects are both possible. Additionality means that, without the projects, the activities and ecosystem services would not be delivered.

5. Project Place
The projects are bound to a specific area and can be experienced on-site.

6. Documentation of Projects
The information regarding the project is to be documented in a comprehensible way. All project documents will be made available to the public.
This includes:

  1. project description
  2. certification report
  3. implementation and monitoring report

7. Content of Project Description
The project description contains all relevant information for the certification.
• It contains clear information on the location and spatial extent of the project area as well as a grant of rights of use during the project term.
• Existing conditions of use are documented so that benefitting from existing obligations is excluded.
• The project description defines which additional activities will be performed and which additional ecosystem services will be provided to what extent.
• The project description encloses in what way and with which methods the process shall be documented, as well as when the monitoring is to take place.

8. Content of Certification Report
The project description is to be reviewed by an independent third party. The certification report will illustrate this and will confirm the compliance with the criteria. Based on this confirmation, project holders can offer their certificates.

9. Content of Implementation and Monitoring Report
The implementation report documents the implementation of planned activities. Activities that are constantly necessary, the continuous implementation is to be documented on an annual basis. Nature and extent of the monitoring are to be defined in the project description.

The monitoring report documents the development of the project outcomes. Methods and timescales are to be defined in the project description. The project results are assessed in the context of the targets defined for the project. If necessary, activities or targets have to be adjusted.

10. Measurement and Logging of Ecosystem Services
The methods to be used for acquiring and measuring the results are to be described. They have to be based on scientifically acknowledged and validated methods. Newly developed methods have to be confirmed beforehand. Methods which are or were used in previously certified projects can be applied. Those methods which have been acknowledged will be documented on the Standard’s webpage.

In the project description the project scenario will be described. It will describe the envisioned future scenario, if the project is to be carried out successfully, and the relevant ecosystem services to be expected. To demonstrate the improvement to be made by the project, a hypothetical and foresighted reference scenario will be illustrated, which will model an estimation of the future conditions if the project were not to be implemented over the recommended timescale. The quantifiable difference between the conditions in the reference scenario and project scenario determines the ex ante improvement that the project will make.

11. Conservativism of the Measurement Method
Assessments of ecosystem services are to be portrayed conservatively: the positive effect should be under- rather than overestimated. Details should be given in the project description.

12. Sustainability of the Projects
The projects are subject to a prohibition of deterioration. The compliance to the project description should be described verbally-argumentatively in the project description. The region’s socio-economic circumstances must not be deteriorated.