Berlin Environmental Atlas

01.12 Soil Functions (Edition 2002)

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01.12.1 Habitat Function for Natural Vegetation


The habitat for natural vegetation is characterized by the site conditions of the soils. The changes in the soil by excavation, soil-dumping and moving as well as by lowering of the groundwater table and nutrient entry result in far-reaching leveling of site qualities, so that particularly specialized plants lose their habitats. Therefore, a minimum possible influence, or a low level of anthropogenic disturbance, i.e. a high level of near-naturalness and a high degree of rareness, is of great significance for the habitat function for natural vegetation.
In the evaluation of the habitat function undertaken here, which is orientated toward the concept developed by Lahmeyer 2000, soil associations with extreme conditions of water balance are primarily evaluated as high. Rare and wet sites, together with nutrient-rich forest sites, which are the exception in the Berlin area, and occur in the form of deciduous woods on glacial-till plateaus, are certified as so-called "special sites". In this way, ecologically particularly valuable sites and development potentials, such as alluvial associations, damp meadows, mire sections and nutrient-rich forests can be pinpointed. Soils which do not meet the criteria for special sites but nevertheless have high value as habitats because of their special locational qualities for natural vegetation include e.g. extremely dry and low-nutrient dunes as potential sites for valuable dry meadows. These sections are taken into account in this procedure as special natural spaces, due to their rareness and near-naturalness. They therefore receive only a medium evaluation under this procedure.


The habitat for natural vegetation is derived from the criteria Near-Naturalness (cf. 01.11.3), Regional Rareness of the Soil Association (cf. 01.11.1), Site Dampness and Nutrient Supply (for forest sites). The main criterion is Near-Naturalness. The other criteria are used to ascertain so-called "special sites".

Special sites include:

  • Sections for which the site dampness has been indicated as "wet";
  • Sections for which the regional rareness of the soil association has been judged "very rare-rare";
  • Sections under forest use which show a good nutrient supply in the topsoil.

Broken down into "special sites" and "other sites", the evaluation of the habitat for natural vegetation is carried out according to Table 1, in three classes (low, medium, high), with consideration for near-naturalness. The special sites with their extreme site conditions receive a considerably higher evaluation than the other sites, with the exception of extremely dry sites. There, a medium development potential for natural vegetation is always reached, with very high near-naturalness or regional rareness.

Figure 1: Plan for the evaluation of the habitat function for natural vegetation

Table 1: Evaluation of the soil function Habitat for natural vegetation from the evaluation of Near-Naturalness, broken down into special and other sites
Special site Evaluation
of Near-Naturalness
Habitat function
    Evaluation Designation
yes high 3 high
medium 2 medium
low 1 low
very low 1 low
no high 2 medium
medium 1 low
low 1 low
very low 1 low
Table 1: Evaluation of the soil function Habitat for natural vegetation from the evaluation of Near-Naturalness, broken down into special and other sites (Lahmeyer 2000)

Map Description

Sections with high importance as habitats for natural vegetation are restricted exclusively to near-natural soils in the outlying areas of Berlin. Only a few small sections fall into this category. They include soils characterized by high groundwater levels, such as bog and gley associations in glacial-stream channels, river plains and valley-sand areas. The limey gyttja section in Teerofen should also be mentioned, as should the pale leached soils with sandy-wedge rusty soils on the glacial till plateaus in Frohnau under deciduous forests.
Near-natural soils also receive only a medium evaluation. These include bog and gley soil associations in valley-sand areas, rusty soils of end and push moraines as well as glacial-stream channels. The sections of podzol associations from dune-sands and valley-sand areas are of special significance for the natural vegetation; on the loamy plateaus, para-braunerde with sand wedge rusty earths should be mentioned in this evaluation class, as should the gley-para-braunerde with gley-sandy-wedge-rusty soils in the former sewage fields of Gatow.
The predominant share of the sections is of only minor significance for the development of natural vegetation. These are primarily inner-city sections consisting of anthropogenic dump soil, such as building rubble.

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