1. The Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) has announced their 2011 Dinosaur of the Year award. 2011’s dinosaurs are the cruise ship industry. The German-based NABU singled out cruise lines AIDA and TUI, based in Germany, as the representatives of their branch. NABU President Olaf Tschimpke states that cruise ships emit particle pollution equivalent to 5 million cars driving the same distance as a cruise ship travels.

  2. The competition “German Capital of Biodiversity” was organised by Deutsche Umwelthilfe and started in July 2010. All municipalities were invited to participate. To ensure a fair competition, all towns and cities were grouped according to their size: Towns below 10,000 inhabitants, between 10,000 and 30,000, 30,000 to 100,000 as well as cities above 100,000 inhabitants. 124 municipalities, over one third of which were large cities of over 100,000 inhabitants, filled out the comprehensive questionnaire and submitted altogether nearly 900 biodiversity projects. The award ceremony took place on 6 April 2011 in Cologne. The city of Hannover, capital of the federal state of Lower Saxony, was the clear winner of the competition „German Capital of Biodiversity 2010/2011“ and received a prize money of 25.000 Euros donated by the Vibrant Cities Foundation.

  3. The European Commission awarded Hamburg the title of European Green Capital 2011 in Brussels, February 23, 2009. Hamburg, a city of 1.8 million people, is a city that matches environmental policy commitment with appropriate funding. Air quality is very good, numerous awareness raising programmes are in place, and the city has introduced extremely ambitious climate protection goals such as reducing its CO2 emissions by 40% by 2020 and by 80% by the year 2050. Measures introduced include a cost-efficiency benchmark for energy-saving measures in public buildings, with programmes for lighting, boilers and refrigerator replacement. Over 200,000 conventional lamps in more than 400 public buildings have been replaced, and in recent years €18 million has been spent replacing more than 600 boiler systems with modern condensing boilers. CO2 emissions per person have been reduced by about 15% compared to 1990, with annual energy savings of some 46,000 MWh. Almost 100% of Hamburg's citizens have public transport within 300 meters. There is also a systematic structure of green spaces which are easily accessible to citizens. Hamburg was also commended for its communication strategy, and its proposal to launch a 'train of ideas' where other cities ‘own’ a wagon and promote their green ideas, achievements and future plans.

  4. Greenhouse gas emissions are dropping further despite the decommissioning of eight nuclear power plants in 2011. When compared with emissions from 2010, emissions in 2011 fell by 2.9 percent, mainly due to weather conditions. This amounts to 27 million tonnes less carbon dioxide equivalent. The greatest reductions were recorded in combustion plants for the generation of space heating and as a result private household emissions fell. Over the past few years most sectors have recorded a weaker rate of reduction. However, by contrast, emissions were reduced by almost 27 percent in 1990.

  5. The 2011 German Environmental Award of the Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU) has been given to two prize-winners who have demonstrated the potential for environmental relief in the German small-firm sector: the prize, worth altogether 500,000 euros, is shared by the associate, co-founder and board spokesman of memo AG (Greussenheim), Jürgen Schmidt (48), and the managing directors of the company WS Wärmeprozesstechnik (Renningen), Dr Joachim Alfred Wünning (81) and Dr Joachim Georg Wünning (48). Schmidt is receiving the award for the way his climate-neutral mail order company contributes to sustainable consumption in the office, school, home and leisure time with its ecological products. The Wünning father-and-son team is being presented with the prize for their efforts in making possible a more efficient use of energy and considerable reductions of emissions in energy-intensive key technologies, and for setting international standards in innovative environmental technology. Christian Wulff presented the prizes in Stuttgart on 30 October 2012.

  6. At 450 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, 1,640 power generation and industrial facilities required to participate in emissions trading in Germany emitted approximately one percent less climate-damaging CO2 in 2011 than in 2010. Despite a very strong economy and nuclear phase-out, the reduction of CO2 emissions has continued since 2008. According to preliminary calculations, CO2 emissions were especially reduced in the energy sector compared to 2010. In this sector, emission reductions are between two percent in large combustion facilities and six percent in smaller combustion facilities.

  7. Stephen R. Carpenter, Professor of Zoology and Limnology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA, will receive the 2011 Stockholm Water Prize. This announcement was made on 22 March 2011 in connection with the UN World Water Day. Professor Carpenter's groundbreaking research has shown how lake ecosystems are affected by the surrounding landscape and by human activities. His findings have formed the basis for concrete solutions on how to manage lakes.

  8. In its resolution 61/193 of 20 December 2006, the General Assembly proclaimed 2011 as the International Year of Forests and invited Governments, the United Nations system, relevant non-governmental organisations, the private sector and other actors to make concerted efforts to raise awareness at all levels to strengthen the sustainable management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests for the benefit of current and future generations. In resolution 61/193, the Assembly requested the Secretariat of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs to serve as the focal point for implementation of activities for the observance of the Year, in collaboration with Member States, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests and international, regional and sub regional organisations and processes as well as relevant major groups.

  9. Eighty years ago, Lake Fúquene was the largest lake in Colombia and an important habitat for indigenous species. Today, only 3,000 hectares of the once 10,000 hectares are left. The shallow water body has been dried up or filled in with land, to gain more farmland for agriculture and livestock breeding. At the same time, invasive plants are suffocating the lake. Since 2004, on the Worlds Wetlands Day (2nd February) GNF nominates the “Threatened Lake of the Year” to call attention to a threatened lake and help solving environmental problems. Laguna de Fúquene is located at 2,540 meters on the Bogotá plateau and is the last bigger fresh water body of the Cordillera Oriental, the Eastern range of the Andes Mountains. The lake belongs to a water landscape of the Ubaté Valley which connects various rivers, wetlands and small lakes and has a total surface of 1,974 square kilometers.

  10. Animal of the Year 2011 is the lynx (Lynx lynx).

  11. Avenue of the Year 2011 is a maple-ash avenue in Brandenburg (Kremmen).

  12. Cactus of the year 2011 is the Epicactus.

  13. Insect of the Year 2011 is the narrow-headed ant (Formica exsecta).

  14. Poisonous Plant of the Year 2011 is the common yew, or European yew (Taxus baccata).

  15. Reptile of the year 2011 ist the Common wall lizard (Podarcis muralis).

  16. Perennial Herb of the Year 2010 is the Sedum.

  17. Fish of the Year 2011 is the Grayling (Thymallus thymallus).

  18. Orchid of the Year 2011 is the Platanthera bifolia, commonly known as the Lesser Butterfly-orchid.

  19. Vegetable of the Year 2010 / 2012 is the parsnips (Pastinaca).

  20. The Chequers Tree (Sorbus torminalis) is the tree of the year 2011.

  21. Soil of the Year 2011: Brauner Auenboden

  22. Butterfly of the Year 2011 is the Purple emperor (Apatura iris).

  23. Water plant of the year 2011 is the water chestnut (Trapa natans).

  24. German Mollusc of the Year 2011 is the Anisus vorticulus.

  25. Bird of the Year 2011 is the Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus).

  26. Fungus of the Year 2011 is the Clathrus ruber. Clathrus ruber is a species of fungus in the stinkhorn family, and the type species of the genus Clathrus. It is commonly known as the latticed stinkhorn, the basket stinkhorn, or the red cage.

  27. The 2011 water body type of the year, which experts refer to as “Small coarse substrate-dominated siliceous highland river (type 5), is most worthy of our attention, as its more than 18,000-km of waterways are the most common water body type in Germany. The new “Water Body of the Year” campaign, launched in 2011, is how UBA is seeking to raise awareness of water bodies as they deserve special attention on account of their widespread presence, properties, uses, condition, and more notably, their risk potential. In addition to this year’s winner, there are another 50 other types of river, lake, transitional and coastal waters.

  28. Endangered livestock breed of the year 2011 is the Limpurger cow.

  29. Moss of the year 2011 is the Thuidium abietinum.

  30. Lichen of the year 2011 is the Fulgensia fulgens.

  31. Spider of the year 2011 is the common labyrinth spider (Agelena labyrinthica). The labyrinth spider is one of about 500 funnel-web spiders (Family Agelenidae) found world-wide. In Europe there are 150 species and in central Europe about 30. The labyrinth spider lives in sunny, dry habitats with low vegetation and sparse shrubs and bushes. It can also be found in forests and on the edges of pathways, as well as in dry grassland. In central Europe the labyrinth spider is widely distributed and thus commonly encountered.

  32. Cave animal of the year 2011 is the greater mouse-eared bat (Myotis myotis).

  33. Laboratory Animal of the Year 2011 is the African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis).

  34. Flower of the Year 2011 is the Narthecium ossifragum, commonly known as bog-, Lancashire- or bastard asphodel.

  35. Medicinal Plant of the Year 2011 is the purple passionflower(Passiflora incarnata).

  36. Rosmary(Rosmarinus officinalis)has been chosen for the Medicinal Herb of the Year 2011 by the NHV Theophrastus.

  37. The Arctic sea ice has not only declined over the past decade but has also become distinctly thinner and younger. Researchers are now observing mainly thin, first-year ice floes which are extensively covered with melt ponds in the summer months where once metre-thick, multi-year ice used to float. Sea ice physicists at the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), have now measured the light transmission through the Arctic sea ice for the first time on a large scale, enabling them to quantify consequences of this change. They come to the conclusion that in places where melt water collects on the ice, far more sunlight and therefore energy is able to penetrate the ice than is the case for white ice without ponds. The consequence is that the ice is absorbing more solar heat, is melting faster, and more light is available for the ecosystems in and below the ice. The researchers have published these findings in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters (Volume 39, Issue 24, December 2012).

  38. The air in Germany in 2011 had excessive levels of particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide pollution. Mean particulate matter levels were above those of the previous four years, and nitrogen dioxide pollution remained high. Limit values for particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide are often exceeded in the immediate vicinity of urban roads. Daily averages for particulate matter were above the allowable limit at 42 per cent of stations near roads. The limit allows for daily averages of more than 50 micrograms of fine particles (PM10) per cubic metre air (µg/m3) on no more than 35 days. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels were above the allowable yearly average of 40 µg/m3 at 57 per cent of urban stations located near traffic.

  39. An exceptional accumulation of very severe natural catastrophes makes 2011 the highest-ever loss year on record, even after the first half-year. Already, the approx. US$ 265bn in economic losses up to the end of June easily exceeds the total figure for 2005, previously the costliest year to date (US$ 220bn for the year as a whole). Most of the losses were caused by the earthquake in Japan on 11 March. Altogether, the loss amount was more than five times higher than the first-half average for the past ten years. The insured losses, around US$ 60bn, were also nearly five times greater than the average since 2001. First-half losses are generally lower than second-half losses, which are often affected by hurricanes in the North Atlantic and typhoons in the Northwest Pacific. The total number of loss-relevant natural events in the first six months of 2011 was 355, somewhat below the average for the previous ten years (390).