Berlin Environmental Atlas

05.06. Nature Reserves and Landscape Reserves (Edition 1995)

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Endangerment of the Nature Habitats

The living conditions for wild plant and animal species have clearly worsened since the middle of the last century, especially in the urban areas. About half of the wild plants and animal species previously attested in Berlin are today extinct, threatened by extinction, or endangered. This development is threatening, since, due to the complex relationship between plants and animals and their biocenoses, individual gaps as a rule mean the loss of several species.

The most important causes for the species decline are the destruction of the natural habitats and the change in the conditions of life. As a consequence of the utilization of areas for development, soil impermiability, etc. habitats have been and are being destroyed or subdivided so greatly, that they no longer offer undisturbed refuge for sensitive species. Furthermore, the entry of harmful materials from industry, trade, traffic and households leads to considerable impairment of the natural foundations of life. In Berlin, this has become apparent through major impoverishment of moss and lichen flora and damage to forest areas. According to the 1995 Investigation of Forest Conditions, 18% of the wooded area in Berlin (in Brandenburg 14%) has suffered medium to heavy damage and/or is already dead (damage levels 2 to 4) (cf. SenStadtUm 1995 and MELFBr 1995).

Bank reinforcement, intensive leisure and water-sport use as well as nutrient pollution affect water and shoreline biotopes negatively. In the Havel, the reed-beds have receded by approx. 80% since 1959, which has been accompanied by the loss of habitats for numerous species. Drops in the groundwater tables as a consequence of the drinking water production constitute a grave problem. Formerly species-rich moist meadows show clear steppe formation and overuse symptoms. Bogs, such as the Teufelsbruch (Devils Swamp) and the Grosse Rohrpfuhl (Great Reed-Pool), dry up; the bog vegetation is driven back by shrub formation. A large part of the water requirement is covered from wells in the forests. Groundwater-dependent forest lands in some cases display considerable drought damage. Especially affected are also the rare and very endangered swamp and riparian forests (cf. LaPro 1993).

In addition to the regulations for the protection of individual species, other legal instruments to counteract species decline exist in the federal and state Conservation Laws, with provisions for the certification of protected areas and for landscape planning. While the certification of protected areas primarily serves to protect still available well-developed biotopes from other uses, the landscape planning instruments also serve the development of biotic potential. The goal of conservation, as determined by the Federal Conservation Law, is to protect, to care for, and to develop nature, the basis for human life in both settled and unsettled areas, in such a way that the productive power of the ecosystem, the utility of natural products, and the plant and animal kingdoms, as well as the diversity, uniqueness and beauty of nature and the landscape, can be preserved, promoted and developed.

History of the State Nature Conservation

The beginning of conservation legislation in Germany is marked by the establishment of the "State Office for Nature Monument Care" in Danzig (Gdánsk), in 1906. This first state conservation facility was transfered to Berlin in 1911. In 1935, the Reich Conservation Law came into effect as the legal basis for conservation and landscape care. On this basis, the "State Office for Nature Monument Care" was transformed in 1936 to the "Reich Office for Conservation."

The essential goals of the Reich Conservation Law consisted in the preservation of plants and non-game animal, of nature monuments and their environment, as well as of nature reserves and other landscape segments in free nature, which were to be protected because of their rarity, beauty, uniqueness and their scientific, regional-cultural, forestry or hunting significance.

Immediately after the end of the Second World War, conservation played only a very subordinate role. Only after the elementary needs of life were safeguarded and everyday life was normalized could conservation activities develop again. Due to the division of Germany, different social systems emerged, which were also reflected in conservation legislation.

In the Federal Republic of Germany and West Berlin, the "Reich Office for Conservation" was continued after the war as the "Central Office for Conservation and Landscape Care" and incorporated in 1953 in the Federal Ministry for Food, Agriculture and Forestry (BML) as the "Federal Institute for Conservation and Landscape Care." In 1962, it was merged with the "Federal Institute for Vegetation Mapping" to form the "Federal Institute for Botany, Conservation and Landscape Care." In 1976, it was renamed the "Federal Research Facility for Conservation and Landscape Ecology" (BFANL), and in 1986 transferred from the BML to the newly-created Federal Ministry for the Environment, Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU). The Federal Conservation Agency, set up in 1993, unites the BFANL and the species-protection sections of the Federal Office for Food and Forestry. In the Federal Republic, the Federal Conservation Law (BNatSchG) superseded the Reich Conservation Law in 1976. In 1979 the Berlin Conservation Law (NatSchGBln) was passed in West Berlin, which, on the Federal Conservation Law, established the state-level legal provisions for conservation. It was completed in 1982 with the ordinance for the protection of the tree population in Berlin (Tree Protection Ordinance - BaumSchVo), and was amended finally on 17 Feb. 1995.

In the German Democratic Republic the conservation law - "Law for the Conservation and Care of the Domestic Nature" constituted the legal basis for conservation after 1954. The Rural Culture Law (LKG) - "Law on the Planned Formation of Socialist Rural Culture in the GDR," with its first implementation ordinance (Conservation Ordinance) in 1970 replaced the Conservation Law. The Tree Protection Ordinance of the GDR took effect in 1981. In 1989, the first implementation ordinance to the LKG in its new form - "Protection and Care of the Plant and Animal Kingdoms and Scenic Beauties" (Conservation Ordinance of 1989) replaced the Conservation Ordinance of 1970. In East Germany, there were 8 classes of protected areas and objects, of which the following were applicable to East Berlin: Nature Reserves (NSG), Landscape Reserves (LSG), Large-Scale Nature Monuments (FND), Nature Monuments (ND) and Protected Parks.

During the preparatory phase of the union of both German states, stipulations for the development of a German environment union were incorporated in Art. 16 of the Treaty on the Creation of a Currency, Economic and Social Union between West and East Germany. With the Environmental Framework Law of East Germany, which took effect on 1 July 1990, East Germany obligated itself to the almost complete adoption of West German environmental law. At the last meeting of the East German cabinet in September 1990, 10% of the area of the new federal states was proclaimed as protected areas. These included the national parks "Vorpommersche Boddenlandschaft - Hither Pomeranian Bodden Landscape," the "Jasmund," the "Müritz National Park," the "Hochharz - High Harz," the "Sächsische Schweiz - Saxon Schweiz" and the Biosphere Reserve "Schorfheide-Chorin " and the Nature Park "Märkische Schweiz." According to Art. 9 of the Unification Agreement, which reinforces the agreements met between both countries over the accession of East Germany to the Federal Republic, some stipulations in the Environment Law providing guidelines for conservation are to be continued temporarily as state law. The temporary safeguarding of Art. 6 § 5 for the preservation of protected areas are retained, and existing protection stipulations under Art. 6 § 8 are carried over.

Nature Conservation in Berlin

In Berlin, the stipulations of Art. 9 of the Unification Agreement on the continuation of East German law as Berlin state law were, with a few exceptions, obviated as a result of the Law on the Standardization of Berlin State Law. In 1990, with the union of the both city halves, the Berlin Conservation Law of 1979 took effect for all of Berlin. The existing protected-status provisions in East Berlin were eliminated de facto with the standardization of Berlin state law. Attempts by the administration to close this legal gap by means of determinations according to Art. 19 of the Unification Agreement, according to which the continued validity of single directives, but not of laws or ordinances, is possible, or to temporarily maintain the protection ordinances on the basis of the Reich Conservation Law by decree of a transitional stipulation under § 52 of the NatSchGBln, were without success.

The examination of protected areas existing in East Berlin up till 1990 - more than 810 protected areas and objects amounting to approximately one quarter of the former urban area, yielded a multitude of problems:

  • frequently, very different areas were summed up in a protected-status implementation decision, which did not meet the individual requirements of the specific areas;
  • due to uncoordinated decisions "double" or even "triple protection procedures" were undertaken in some cases;
  • doubts arose on one hand regarding the formal legality of decisions, and on the other, in cases when an area did not fulfill the requirements of the protection class specified;
  • various protection classes under former East German law had no analogy, either in the Federal Conservation Law nor in the Berlin Conservation Law, which could have caused areas to be carried over into a "legal nothing" status;
  • often, legally prescribed landscape care plans were missing for LSG areas;
  • exact maps of protected border areas were often unclear, frequently the maps were missing;
  • some decisions had only insufficient banning provisions, or none at all (cf. Both-Kreiter et al. 1992).

In a so-called "rescue program," the Berlin Department of Urban Development and Environmental Protection (SenStadtUm) in 1992 issued three umbrella ordinances, by which it temporary safeguarded 32 areas (covering 52 former protected areas altogether) for two to a maximum of four years. In the beginning of January 1994 the temporary safeguarding, which included a prohibition of modifications of the areas, was extended for a year. The greater part of these areas was established as a NSG in 1995. The areas not temporary safeguarded, amounting, altogether, to 85% of the protected areas in East Berlin as of 1990, were predominantly areas which have been covered by other legal protection since 1990. The largest part of these areas falls under the State Forest Law, which essentially prevents utilization change. Further areas are protected under the Water Supply Law, the Berlin Water Law, the Tree Protection Ordinance, the Meadow Law or the Cemetery Law.

Figure 1
Fig. 1: Development of the Certification of Protected Areas in Berlin (as of April 1995); Significance of Year Axis: ≤ 90 = through 2 Oct. 1990; ≥ 90 = 3 Oct. 1990 and later

[Statistical base of Figure 1 is also available as Excel-File (MS-Excel is required).]

Figure 1 elucidates the protected area development in Berlin. The first protected area to be certified in Berlin in 1929 was the NSG "Schildow" (today the NSG "Kalktuffgelände am Tegeler Fliess - Tufaceous Limestone Landscape at Tegel Creek"). Both in the eastern and the western parts of the city, the certification of protected areas increased after 1950. By 1960, 9 LSGs had been established in West Berlin alone. A strong increase in LSGs in the eastern part of the city was recorded in 1965. In that year, the entire territory of the forestry tracts of Schmöckwitz, Grünau, Friedrichshagen, Müggelsee, Müggelheim, Rahnsdorf, Köpenick, Fahlenberg and Buch managed by the Berlin Forestry Operation, except the tract segments already certified as NSGs, were proclaimed as LSGs (7,637 ha).

After the union of Berlin, the protected status implementation of the most valuable former protected areas in the eastern part was addressed. This explains the strong rise in NSGs after 1990. Under East German law, the protection instrument Protected Landscape Element (GLB) did not exist. In an initial step, 14 areas designated for the future protected status of GLB were temporary safeguarded. At present, there are no established nature monuments in the eastern boroughs, since these also have lost their protected status as NDs (and/or FNDs) due to the standardization of Berlin state law, and no new certification has yet been undertaken. The greater part of the area of the NDs in the eastern part before 3 Oct. 1990 results from the inclusion the FNDs, which had a maximum extent of 5 ha, and often exhibited the quality of NSGs. Many of these areas are protected today as NSGs, GLBs and/or LSGs.

Protected areas under the Berlin Conservation Law

Under the Berlin Conservation Law (NatSchGBln), the content and process of the certification of protected areas are regulated in §§18 through 26. The following protected area types are described:

Nature Reserves (NSGs; § 19) are legally established areas, in which nature is strictly protected in whole or in individual parts. The protection extends particularly to areas, which are of considerable significance for the conservation of biocenoses or habitats of wild plant or animal species, for scientific, cultural, natural-historic or regional reasons, because of their rarity, diversity, particular uniqueness or outstanding beauty. All acts are forbidden which can lead to the destruction, damage or change of a protected area or its elements, or to an enduring disturbance counter to the protection goal.

Landscape Reserves (LSGs; § 20) are legally established areas which are especially protected for the conservation or restoration of the productive power of the ecosystem, or the utilization ability of natural products, because of the diversity, uniqueness or beauty of the landscape appearance or because of their particular significance for recreation. They deserve conservation and protection in the public interest, and should therefore be protected from impairment which may change the character of the area or contradict the protection goal. Overdevelopment, unregulated waste dumping, removal of vegetation stock and other actions and impairments are to be avoided. Development adjusted to the natural changes and regulated agriculture, forestry and fishing use may be pursued.

Nature Monuments (§ 21) are legally established single creations of nature, whose protection is necessary for the conservation of biocenoses or habitats for certain plant and animal species, because of their scientific, cultural, natural-historic or regional significance or because of their rarity, uniqueness and beauty. Areas worthy of protection up to a size by 5 ha can also be proclaimed as nature monuments (large-scale nature monuments). Nature monuments include, among other things, old or rare trees or groups of trees, geological formations, springs, glacial boulders, bogs, and spawning and brooding areas. The removal of a nature monument, or any act which leads to the destruction, damage, change or enduring disturbance of a nature monument and his protected environment, is forbidden.

Protected Landscape Elements (GLB; § 22) are legally established parts of nature and the landscape for which a particular protection is necessary in order to ensure the productive power of the ecosystem, to restore, structure or care for the appearance of the locality or landscape, to protect against injurious influences (e.g., noise prevention, air-quality improvement), or because of their significance for recreation. This involves such areas as parks, reed-beds, tree-rows and hedges. In addition, they serve the restoration and care of the landscape, and for protection against damaging environmental effects.

Nature Parks (§ 22a) were incorporated under the law due to the change in the NatSchGBln of 30 March 1994. Accordingly, large areas on the border with Brandenburg can be proclaimed Nature Parks by the supreme conservation authority, if they consist for the most part of LSGs and NSGs, and are especially suitable for environmentally appropriate recreation. These areas are to be developed and cared for only jointly with Brandenburg.

In 1990, § 30a was adopted into the Berlin Conservation Law on the basis of § 20c of the BNatSchG. Under § 30a NatSchGBln are protected the following Biotopes legally:

  1. bogs, swamps, reed-beds, wet meadows rich in sedge and rushes, fontinal areas, near-natural and non-reinforced creek and river segments, silting areas of standing bodies of water;
  2. open inland dunes and dwarf-shrub heaths;
  3. swamp and riparian forests;
  4. pine-oak forests, oak-beech forests and oak-hornbeam forests;
  5. rough meadows, moist and fresh meadows;
  6. gravel, sand and marl quarries.

These biotopes may not be destroyed or damaged. However, exceptions are possible if compensatory or substitute measures are taken. The mere existence of these biotopes is sufficient justification for their special protection.

Process of the certification of protected areas

In areas worthy of protection, in which major changes of the existing conditions are to be expected in the short term, a prohibition against change for the purpose of temporary safeguarding can be imposed by means of a regulation under § 23 of the NatSchGBln. These prohibitions are valid for two years under §12 of the NatSchGBln, and can be extended, under certain conditions, for a maximum of two years by means of "extension ordinances." The temporary safeguarding is set aside if no process for the implementation of protected status is introduced within a year after announcement of the regulation.

For the implementation of protected status for an area, the supreme conservation authority, the Berlin Department of Urban Development and Environmental Protection, initiates the process prescribed under § 24. For Berlin, the initiation of the process begins with the scientific investigation of an area and/or with the drafting of a departmental note by the supreme conservation authority. A detailed protected area ordinance is compiled, which determines the object of protection, the purpose of protection and the orders and prohibitions necessary for the accomplishment of the purpose. Therein contained are regulations for the measures to be taken for restoration, care and development, as well as the necessary limits on economic use, entry authority and use of pesticides. Access to protected areas is as a rule allowed only on certified pathways; some nature reserves are covered per ordinance by an entry prohibition. The responsible department involves acknowledged conservationist and public-interest organizations in the process. After a one-month public posting of the draft of the regulation with the accompanying maps, the suggestions and concerns submitted are examined and weighed. After any necessary revision, the protected area ordinance is established of the Berlin Department of Urban Development and Environmental Protection (SenStadtUm) as a legally-binding regulation. There is no legal right to application for safeguarding certification of a protected area. Proposals can be submitted by any citizen, and must be examined by the responsible authority. The supreme conservation authority maintains a conservation register, in which the NSGs, LSGs, NDs and GLBs are entered (§ 26).

For the conservation and care of protected areas, care and development measures on an ecologically-scientific basis are necessary. For this purpose, maintenance plans are drafted by the responsible conservation authority. For the implementation of the care measures, in-house personnel or trained care groups are available. To a certain extent, the care of individual protected areas can also be transferred to acknowledged conservationist organizations.

For the supervision and control of the existing NSGs, a comprehensive investigation program has been available in the former West Berlin for several years. Floral lists of the areas are prepared at two-year intervals. The development of some selected plant species and animal groups as well as important locational factors are recorded in a five-year survey cycle, in order to describe the existing conditions of the NSGs qualitatively. On this basis, detailed development and care concepts are prepared, which make possible better control and faster action in case of major damage in individual areas.

Landscape planning

The Landscape Planning (§§ 3 to 13) integrates conservation and landscape care into the overall urban zoning plan. According to the NatSchGBln, landscape planning is divided into two levels. For the first level, the Berlin Department of Urban Development and Environmental Protection compiles a Landscape Program (LaPro). In October 1990, the formulation decision for the first LaPro for all of Berlin was adopted. The LaPro, including the species protection program, is composed of the four sub-plans: Ecosystem/ environmental protection, landscape appearance, biotope and species protection, and recreation and open-space use; it was passed on 23 June 1994 by the Berlin State House of Representatives. The LaPro aims at new certification and expansion of the NSGs to 3%, and of LSGs and GLBs to 20% of the urban area. At the second level of landscape planning, landscape plans, which are legally binding for everybody, are compiled by the boroughs for certain parts of Berlin.

Nature Conservation in Brandenburg

After the establishment of the State of Brandenburg, a conservation law for Brandenburg was drafted on the basis of the Federal Conservation Law. The Brandenburg Conservation Law (BbgNatSchG) took effect on 30 June 1992.

Section 4 - Protection Certifications - explains the various protection classes: National Parks, Nature Reserves, Landscape Reserves, Nature Monuments, Protected Landscape Elements and Nature Parks. The formulation of the protection classes corresponds essentially to that of the NatSchGBln. In addition, large, comprehensive landscapes with a rich natural endowment and which constitute important examples of landscape-compatible agricultural use of broad, more than regional significance, and which are certified as NSGs or LSGs, can, in Brandenburg, be proclaimed as Biosphere Reserves (§ 25). In the State of Brandenburg national parks are certified by law; NSGs, LSGs, NDs and GLBs by legal ordinances, and biosphere reserves and nature parks by decree of the supreme conservation authority (§ 19). For NSGs and LSGs, the minister responsible for conservation and landscape care is responsible for the protected area certifications. He can transfer this authority to the subordinate conservation authority, if the area concerned is limited to that jurisdiction. The certification of GLBs and NDs is incumbent on the subordinate conservation authority. If the area of the GLB extends over several counties, the ministry is likewise responsible.

The temporary safeguarding of areas which are to be placed under protection under §§ 20-24 applies for up to three years in Brandenburg. It can be extended for one year, in accordance with certain preconditions. Thus, for Brandenburg and Berlin, a maximum period of temporary safeguarding of four years applies up to protected the status implementation. During this period, a change prohibition applies in the areas concerned.

In Brandenburg, the process of protected status implementation (§ 28) begins with the public posting (citizen participation) of the regulation drafts and corresponding maps (for a month). After examination of the objections and/or suggestions submitted, and transmission of the results to the persons affected, the regulations for the protected areas are drafted. For the enforcement of these regulations, operational guidelines for NSGs and NDs, and care plans for LSGs, are established within three years.

Section 5 of the Brandenburg Conservation Law defines the legally protected parts of nature and the landscape. The Biotopes protected under § 32 largely correspond, except for some specific extensions (e.g. small bodies of water, orchard meadows, gathering-stone heaps, salt-licks), to the biotope protected under § 30a of the Berlin Conservation Law. Further specifications are contained in it §§ 31, 33, 34 and 35 concerning the protection of tree-lined avenues and nest sites, nesting and breeding areas, and habitats.

Section 2 of the BbgNatSchG regulates Landscape Planning. The supreme conservation authority is to set up a Landscape Program for the entire state. Landscape framework plans are compiled chiefly by the subordinate conservation authorities for parts of the state, and landscape and green-space regulatory plans by the responsible communities for the local area. If the contents of the landscape plans are not considered in other planning, the requirement exists in the state of Brandenburg to justify this. Under the law, landscape plans are to be prepared with priority in regard to permanent landscape changes or damage (mining), for recreational and shoreline areas or for the safeguarding of green and open spaces. In the landscape plan, suggestions can be submitted for the protected status implementation of certain areas and for further conservation measures of the subordinate conservation authority.

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