Our answers to frequently asked questions...
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Questions about AgoraNatura
Agora is an old Greek word meaning "meeting place" or "marketplace". Historically, it symbolised a place of cultural exchange, where people gathered to discuss and plan how their community should live together. AgoraNatura therefore acts as more than a "marketplace" for certified nature conservation projects: it also functions as a site where everyone has the chance to make an impact on the interactions between people and nature.
As opposed to other nature conservation platforms, the desired outcomes of the nature conservation projects here are based on scientific methods and are certified by an independent authority. The progress of each project is visible to all, as it is publicly documented. Moreover, the money that goes into a project is allocated to a defined area and specific location, displaying a high level of transparency for each investment. All projects on the marketplace are consistently based on the fulfilment of the same criteria.
AgoraNatura sells nature conservation certificates to help initiate nature conservation projects. The investors pay to support certified and transparent projects and receive a certificate of investment, which indicates the number of certificates bought. One such certificate is representative of the desired outcomes on 100 m2 of the project area for one year of the project's duration. Ownership rights are not transferred. Depending on the project, access and user rights can be arranged, for example as an invitation to an event or through collaborative land care. Such bonus features will be named in the project description. The final decision over such rights, however, is made by the project suppliers.
AgoraNatura is open to receiving projects across Germany which seek to protect or develop biological diversity and ecosystem services, on project suppliers' own or leased land. This includes farmers, communities, land care or nature conservation associations and charities. It is important that the individual or organisation submitting the project will uphold the necessary user rights throughout the project and will continue to do so during its implementation.
The project suppliers decide on the price. They know best about which costs are involved at the beginning, as well as costs that crop up during the project's implementation, for example for continuous land care. Costs also incur when the land cannot be used for other purposes, for example for producing animal fodder or leasing to third parties.
Private landowners (in particular) can expect some level of profit, as a reward for creating an attractive, sustainable system. The degree of risk, related to the actions or outcomes committed to in the project description, also has a cost. The project suppliers are therefore encouraged to set fair prices for potential investors and for themselves, to encourage nature conservation with a long-term commitment.
The final proposal price also includes monitoring costs, which allows project suppliers to measure the success of their actions. A certain fee will also be applied to cover the organisational and administrative costs of whoever is responsible for carrying out the project (for example, landscape or nature conservation associations). The platform will also receive such a fee once the public funding for the AgoraNatura project runs out in 2023.
Currently, AgoraNatura acts as an intermediary and does not apply any fees for submitting new projects. There is, however, a 10% transaction fee that goes to the payment service provider.
In buying nature conservation certificates, project suppliers and investors enter into a contract with one another to support the implementation of a project. The person or organisation proposing a project (project supplier) decides on a contract type when they submit their project. It may be a fundraising agreement, service agreement or working contract. Different types of contracts exist because not all land users can issue a certificate of charitable contribution, since this requires the project supplier to provide official documents, from a relevant financial authority, proving that they work as a non-profit. The type of contract also indicates the project supplier's willingness to take risk.
From a legal perspective, fundraising and service agreements do not have any obligation to achieve the desired outcomes; they are only required to carry out the described measures. By contrast, a working contract means that the project supplier can be flexible in their choice of implementation methods, but they have a legal obligation to achieve the project goals (for example, documented presence of a specific species). Because of this, potential investors might find the working contract to be more attractive.
The different contract types therefore allow both sides - project suppliers and investors - to engage in agreements that suit each other's capabilities and preferences. Please find more information on different contract types here.
The Natureplus -Standard reflects the certification of clearly defined projects which aim to visibly preserve or improve biological diversity and ecosystem services. Project transparency is shown via fulfilment of the Standard's criteria, which requires explicitly naming the desired effects and providing feedback to the public during the implementation process.
To propose a project on AgoraNatura, project suppliers must fill out a project description which is then sent to the independent certification authority.
Currently, agrathaer GmbH acts as the certification authority and checks all proposals for AgoraNatura.
The certification authority evaluates whether the project description is complete and viable, and that all criteria of the natureplus -Standard are fulfilled. After successful certification, a project can go online on AgoraNatura.
The evaluation of accuracy and relevance of the contractual arrangements named in the project description are based on loyalty and trust. The certification authority makes random checks on all certified projects, looking at implementation and monitoring reports as well as on-site developments. You can find more information about how the certification works here: https://agora-natura.de/en/certification/
goraNatura is in its pilot phase and is co-financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) and the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN). This funding allows theory to be put into practice and to test the marketplace. Currently, all money invested goes towards each respective project. There is, however, an additional transaction fee that goes to the payment service provider, which ensures smooth transactions between trusted and insolvency-protected accounts. There is an additional security surcharge for projects which are not successfully funded (10% in total), so that project suppliers do not face any losses in case of failure.
A concept is being developed so that, when the funding period for the pilot-phase runs out, AgoraNatura can continue to act as a self-supporting marketplace and independent intermediary for all individuals or organisations proposing projects.
Project suppliers can propose projects without paying a fee, up to and including June 2023 (which is when the publicly funded AgoraNatura project ends). The transaction fee for the payment service provider, which ensures smooth transactions between trusted and insolvency-protected accounts, and a security surcharge for projects which are not successfully funded (so that project suppliers do not face any losses in case of failure) are covered by an additional 10% on top of the investment certificate price. In the future, one foreseeable fee will be for the certification process for new projects.
Questions from project suppliers
Studies show that in Germany, conscious efforts for nature conservation are steadily increasing. Many people are looking to take up more active involvement and financial responsibility. However, certain barriers often make it difficult to become more strongly engaged in nature conservation. For example, many private individuals or businesses would like to get involved locally, in a specific region, or for a specific cause, but are not aware of what kind of projects exist. Other people are apprehensive about whether their investment money will really be used for the project's implementation, or if it will even play a part in achieving the desired outcomes.
With AgoraNatura, we provide a means to overcome some of these obstacles. Project suppliers specify in detail where and for what the investment money will be used as well as defining their project goals. In this way, businesses and individuals feel more motivated to give their financial support. As proof, the investors receive their personal conservation certificates.
The purpose of AgoraNatura is to increase biological diversity, thereby supporting and drawing attention to other related ecosystem services. To inspire you, we have provided example projects. After registering, you can view and download these from our site. You can find all applicable methods on the Natureplus-Standard website, whose criteria will also be used to certify your project
There are various methods which can be used to assess the effects on biological diversity and ecosystem services. The Natureplus-Standard does not administer any specific requirements; instead, it proposes various science-based methods which project suppliers could apply. This "methods box" is constantly growing - head over to the Natureplus-Standard website to take a look!
Yes, it is. The methods are relatively simple to apply, so long as there is some understanding of nature conservation. If you need support, please get in touch with us at offer[a]agora-natura.de, or bring in a trusted nature conservation expert of your choice.
The area, methods and goals are specified in the project description and form the basis of your certification. Should any difficulties arise during the course of the project, please contact the certification authority directly to dicuss whether the project can continue as planned and if (or which) adjustments are necessary.
A combination with other fincancing instruments (for example, direct payments or payments for organic farming) is possible so that nature conservation areas can increase in value. You must name any ongoing or existing commitments, ensuring that the methods and desired outcomes described on your AgoraNatura project profile are unique, so that your potential funding partners know exactly what your project is supporting.
You have the right to reject investment offers individually within two weeks. You can also agree to automatic acceptance in your project description.
In your "My AgoraNatura" you will find all the functions you need to submit and implement a project at AgoraNatura. The best way to do this is to watch our video "Project description and management" [German only] on our page "We offer you support"or just have a look.
Yes, it is possible, for example, to offer only a part of the area of a larger project. If there are already obligations for this area, they will be identified and it will be made clear which additional measures and results are to be achieved by the AgoraNatura project.
The project description serves to describe the sub-area selected for the AgoraNatura project, the planned measures and the expected results. The overall project can be integrated via the title, the objective or the explanation of the suitability of the area.
Yes, usually it is. In the project description, targets are formulated within the scope of a specific duration. Both must fit together, be plausible from a nature conservation point of view and are the basis for the evaluation of the project's success. If funding can no longer be secured, the project may deteriorate.
A minimum size results from our certificates of 100 m² per year. Otherwise there are no specifications. However, we recommend starting with a smaller total amount.
We recommend that you use the first projects on the marketplace as a guide. The duration should make sense from a nature conservation point of view. Annual projects are not optimal from a nature conservation point of view, but since the financing needs to be raised first, we consider them appropriate if a longer-term continuation of the project is intended by the project supplier.
The maximum possible financing period is six months. This deadline is set by our financial service provider and is based on banking law.
If not all certificates of a project are sold within this maximum possible time, the project will not be realised. The investors are then automatically refunded the money they have invested. However, providers can submit the project again - perhaps with a smaller project volume. They can contact the previous investors and encourage them to try again. Of course, it is better if all certificates can be financed directly within the six months. Therefore, weigh up with which project volume you start the first project.
In the case of donation projects, you will receive a list of the people who have contributed to the financing of your project after it has been fully funded. You must issue a donation receipt to these people and send it to them by e-mail - whereby the year in which the investors made the transfer to the payment service provider applies.
If you have opted for a contractual solution, you must invoice investing companies / legal entities. This is done when all certificates of your project are financed. You will also receive all the necessary information from AgoraNatura for this purpose.
The AgoraNatura marketplace serves as an intermediary; the contracting parties are the investors and you. You issue donation receipts or invoices for the total amount paid in by the investors. The share for AgoraNatura will be deducted by the payment service provider, you will receive an invoice about it.
We regularly provide news about AgoraNatura on our social media channels on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. We promote new projects through press releases to regional newspapers. In the past, this has sometimes had a very positive effect on certificate sales. In addition, a newsletter is sent out several times a year in which, among other things, new projects are presented. In the medium term, we hope for a stronger commitment by companies. We are currently building up contacts in this area. At the moment, however, we would like to encourage you to spread the word about your project in your networks. Please feel free to contact us if you have any ideas on how to apply for funding that we could support you with.
Questions from investors
If you want to support a project financially, you need to register and log in to AgoraNatura. On the project page, you can select the number of certificates you want or the total amount you want to invest. By clicking on the button "Invest in project" you put the selected certificates into your shopping cart and can pay. You can also collect certificates from several projects in your shopping cart and then pay together.
In the checkout area, select your payment method and add any missing data. After you have confirmed the terms and conditions, complete the process by clicking the button "Order now".
The number of certificates you have purchased is now considered sold. As soon as all certificates of the project have found an investor, it can be implemented. Only at this point will you receive the certificate of investment in the project by e-mail.
Once you have decided on a project and bought certificates, your money goes into a kind of escrow account for the corresponding project. The money is "parked" there until all certificates of the project are sold. Only after successful financing the total amount is transferred to the offering person or organisation.
If not all certificates of a project are sold, the project will not be implemented. In this case, depending on the payment method you have chosen, you will get your money back or your account will not be debited at all.
If you have invested by direct debit or credit card, the money will not be collected. If you have chosen prepayment or "Sofortüberweisung" (immediate transfer) as your payment method, the money will be refunded to you within 14 days of the end of the designated financing phase.
Yes, a 14-day right of withdrawal applies.
A certificate always represents the planned project results on an area of 100 m² within one year. The projects offered are very diverse and the related measures vary in cost. In addition to the costs for implementation, costs for land rent and opportunity costs also differ (what agricultural yield would the area generate if it was not made available for nature conservation?). Last but not least, the costs of documenting and monitoring the results may vary. What price is necessary to implement the offered project is determined by the supplier.
For more on this see Questions about AgoraNaturaHow is the price of a project decided?
Questions from companies that want to invest
By buying certificates, companies can make a targeted commitment to the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Business activities have a strong connection to nature: they have an impact on nature, for example through land sealing, the consumption of resources and through emissions. At the same time, companies are dependent on nature, for example on the availability and quality of natural raw materials or on nature experiences as part of the business model. Companies therefore have a great responsibility and at the same time a strong self-interest to contribute to nature conservation. A short video on the links between business and nature can be found here (source: World Business Council for Sustainable Development).
Furthermore, public awareness of nature conservation issues is steadily increasing, for example with regard to the loss of insects and groundwater pollution. By purchasing nature conservation certificates, companies can meet the growing expectations of society and politics, employees, customers and business partners.
Nature conservation certificates refer to nature conservation areas. This means that a project is certified and not a company, product or service. Thus, nature conservation certificates are hardly comparable with eco-certifications or product labels.
No! The nature conservation certificates cannot be used for mandatory offsetting such as compensation and replacement measures under the Federal Nature Conservation Act, the "Ökokonto" (eco-account) or emissions trading. AgoraNatura aims to provide additional funds for nature conservation. However, recognition of the certificates would not lead to an increase but only to a redistribution of nature conservation payments. Furthermore, in Germany it is generally not possible to have CO2 certificates from a voluntary market credited for officially confirmed climate neutrality.
The conservation certificates on AgoraNatura focus on the protection of biodiversity and various ecosystem services, currently especially in the agricultural landscape. The reduction of CO2 on these areas is only one aspect and, compared to other habitats such as peatlands and forests, is also associated with lower climate protection effects.
If you want to focus on voluntary CO2 compensation, we recommend investing in MoorFutures. These are voluntary climate protection certificates from the renaturation of German peatlands. In addition, you can find more information on voluntary CO2 offsets in a publication by the Federal Environment Agency [German only].
Nature conservation certificates can of course be used for the internal and external presentation of your corporate engagement or can serve as a gift for business partners and employees. Above all, however, the area and time reference of the certificates (100 m2 for 1 year) enables you to set strategic goals, for example related to the compensation of office, storage or parking space. It is also possible to link the certificates to products or services. Through such an offer with "additional ecological benefits" you involve your customers and business partners and get into conversation. By involving the staff in the selection of projects, the identification with the regional environment of the company's location could be increased and the collective visiting and experiencing of projects after contacting the project supplier can be turned into special networking or team building events.
Agora is a historical term from the Greek, meaning "assembly" or "market place". At this so important cultural and event location, community living together was discussed and negotiated. In this sense, AgoraNatura sees itself not only as a "marketplace" for certified nature conservation projects, but as a place where everyone can get involved in the discussion about the relationship between nature and society.
Agri-environmental programmes are an important instrument of European agri-environmental policy, introduced in 1992. Their aim is to financially promote sustainable and environmentally friendly land management. To this end, management practices that go beyond "good agricultural practice" are rewarded. Participation is voluntary and is usually fixed for at least 5 years. If a farmer participates in an agri-environmental measure (AUM), he agrees to limit his agricultural use on certain areas, e.g. by applying less fertiliser, keeping diverse crop rotations or reducing the number of animals.
Tenderers are organisations or individuals who submit a nature conservation or landscape management project to AgoraNatura as an Offer hire and for the provision of biodiversity and Nature services are looking for financial support. You want to implement a project on your own or leased land, either alone or together with the people farming there. You are responsible for the implementation of the offered project.
An offer on AgoraNatura includes the description of a concrete project with which the offering organisation or person more biodiversity and / or Nature services and for which it is looking for investment partners. In addition to the background of the project and the organisations or persons involved, the main thing that is presented is what they can achieve through the project. A direct contact option is given in each case.
factual / nature conservation
Biological diversity or biodiversity describes the variety of life on our planet. It includes three levels: 1. the diversity of species, 2. the diversity of habitats (=Ecosystems) and 3. genetic diversity within animal and plant species. Offers at AgoraNatura can show their positive effects on the diversity of plants, the diversity of animals and / or genetic diversity. Through the diversity of its projects, AgoraNatura ultimately supports habitat diversity.
Fallow land is land that is not currently being used for any specific purpose. Agricultural fallow land is often a very valuable habitat for numerous plant species and adapted animal species, and can thus contribute greatly to the biological diversity contribute. In addition, they can fulfil numerous other important functions, including reducing nutrient discharges into groundwater.
A service contract obliges the person or organisation providing the service to implement all the measures described for the project. This includes documentation and monitoring of the intended results. However, there is - purely legally - no obligation to achieve the intended results. The service contract is interesting for providers who do not have non-profit status in the sense of the tax office.
Comparison with GTC
A development project supports the development of specific Nature services on a clearly defined area. This area does not yet have a large biodiversity (e.g. diverse native plant species) and / or does not provide nature services to date or only to a limited extent. Through the implementation of the proposed project, biodiversity on the site is increased or conditions are created through which certain natural services can be (increasingly) provided. In other words, biodiversity and/or nature services are developed or improved. It should be noted that some effects of the project occur quickly and may already be visible in the first year, while others only emerge in the course of the implementation phase or even at the end of the project period.
A conservation project supports the preservation of already existing Nature services and/or existing biodiversity on a clearly defined area. The area already has a high biological diversity (e.g. endangered animal or plant species are found here) and/or already provides one or more natural services. The implementation of the project ensures that the area will continue to "produce" this high value, i.e. that it will be preserved.
When the previously intensive cultivation of an area is reduced in the agricultural sector, e.g. by applying very little fertiliser, using fewer cattle for grazing, mowing less frequently or planting less densely and thus harvesting less, this is referred to as extensification.
The technical term "grassland" stands for agricultural areas that are used as meadows or pastures. But they are more than just the fodder base for livestock and thus for many foods. They are often also habitats for typical plant and animal species, such as meadow breeders and insects, fulfil important buffer and filter functions, e.g. for adjacent water bodies, offer protection against soil erosion through their closed sward and contribute to climate protection by storing CO2. And last but not least, they have a high aesthetic and identity-forming value for many people: just think of the colourful, fragrant and humming meadows of your childhood!
Large protected areas include: National parks, biosphere reserves and nature parks.
This technical term refers to the characteristic habitat of a particular animal or plant species in which it naturally occurs, i.e. in short, its habitat.
Investors are companies or private individuals who, on a voluntary basis, financially support an existing offer on AgoraNatura through a donation or through remuneration within the framework of a service exchange contract.
factual / nature conservation
Landscape conservation associations are voluntary associations of nature conservation representatives, farmers and local politicians in a non-profit association. Their aim is to jointly maintain or create near-natural landscape areas. The German Association for Landscape Conservation, DVL, as the umbrella organisation of landscape conservation associations, has been involved in AgoraNatura from the very beginning. As experts in the conservation of species-rich cultural landscapes, individual landscape conservation associations, especially from Brandenburg, have developed many of the types of services and functionalities.
The natureplus-The standard consists of a catalogue of generally applicable criteria for effective nature conservation projects, which are specifically biodiversity and Nature services provide. It describes specific requirements for the development of the projects as well as methods and rules for recording the nature services and biodiversity provided, reporting and Verification. Within the framework of the Certification it is checked whether a presented Offer meets these criteria. If the examination is successful, the Offer set in the marketplace.
By nature services we mean the direct and indirect contributions of nature and its Ecosystems to human well-being, i.e. services and goods that bring direct or indirect economic, material, health or psychological benefits to people. The technical term is Ecosystem services or "ecosystem service" and was introduced in the 1980s to establish the value of nature for humans in social discourse as an additional argument for more nature conservation. Nature services or ecosystem services are often differentiated into supply services (e.g. food, water, raw materials), regulatory services (e.g. CO2 storage as a contribution to climate protection, the filter function of the soil for clean water) and cultural services (e.g. recreation, landscape image and aesthetics).
A nature conservation certificate indicates the additional positive effects of a Offer on an area of 100m2 within one year. Companies and private individuals can acquire these certificates and thus invest in the implementation of the respective offer. Certification is carried out according to the Natureplus-Standard by independent third parties. A conservation certificate cannot be resold, is not transferable and is not valid for mandatory markets, such as mechanisms of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Act or compensation and replacement measures.
The technical term ecosystem describes a habitat together with the organisms living in it and the dynamic, complex interaction between the living organisms themselves and with their inanimate environment. There are different types of ecosystems on earth; the respective size is not firmly defined. They are open systems, i.e. individual ecosystems can merge seamlessly into others and interact with each other. Simple examples are lakes, bogs or forests.
See Nature services
An online marketplace is a digital platform that enables the exchange of services or products. It provides the institutional framework for transaction processes between providers and consumers. AgoraNatura is an online marketplace for more biodiversity and nature services in Germany.
If an organisation or person wishes to place an offer on AgoraNatura, it must assess the expected effects of the proposal on the biodiversity and Nature servicesThe aim is to provide transparent, plausible and verifiable evidence of the expected effects of the offer. The aim is to provide transparent, plausible and verifiable evidence of the expected effects of the offer.
In the case of a donation contract, the investment must be used for the purpose of the described project measures. However, there is - from a legal point of view - no obligation to achieve the intended results. A donation contract can only be offered if the person or organisation offering it has been certified as a non-profit organisation by the competent tax office and is pursuing non-profit purposes with the investment raised. If this is the case, investors can receive a donation receipt for this type of contract.
check with GTC!
A meadow orchard is a traditional form of fruit growing. It is characterised by tall fruit trees, often of different ages and usually of diverse species and varieties, scattered on meadows or (mowed) pastures. Orchard meadows are man-made cultivated landscapes that are only extensively managed (i.e. little or no use of fertilisers or pesticides) and thus have a very high environmental value. biodiversity show. Currently, the existence of meadow orchards in Germany is severely endangered. Their preservation requires continuous, expert maintenance measures.
A "top-up" project is when an environmental measure is already being carried out on an area, e.g. via Agri-environmental programmes is promoted, but due to the supply still additional biodiversity and Nature services on the site that have not been financed so far. Since the provider does not have to finance all nature services on the project area through AgoraNatura, these are often relatively inexpensive and at the same time high-quality areas.
Transaction costs are all costs that arise in an exchange of services, goods or capital and thus transactions between actors. They can be roughly divided into three categories, depending on the phase of the transaction: search and information costs, negotiation and decision-making costs, and contract enforcement, control and adjustment costs. In the case of AgoraNatura, transaction costs arise in particular on the part of the providers and include, for example, the time and costs for inventorying the project area, preparing the description of the offer or documenting the implementation of the measures.
Still to be filled
With a contract for work and services, the offering person or organisation commits to achieving a defined project success. This is not only a promise that the measures will be implemented, but that the described result will actually be achieved. If the defined result is not achieved, the investors can reclaim the amounts they have paid. Due to the strict requirements and the higher risk, it is to be expected that bidders will calculate higher costs for this form of contract.
Comparison with GTC
See Nature Conservation Certificate
As part of the certification process, independent third parties check whether an offer presented meets the criteria of the Natureplus-Standards corresponds, is plausible and technically correct. It is the prerequisite for the release of an offer on AgoraNatura and the issue of Nature conservation certificates.