Berlin Environmental Atlas

05.06. Nature Protection Areas and Landscape Protection Areas (Edition 2003)

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You will find a survey of instruments and aims of nature conservation under Naturschutz in Berlin (only in german).


Endangerment of Natural Habitats

The conditions of life for wild plant and animal species have clearly worsened since the middle of the last century, especially in 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 provides cause for concern, 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 species decline are the destruction of the natural habitats and the changes 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 fragmented so greatly that they no longer offer undisturbed refuge for sensitive species. Furthermore, the entry of harmful materials from industry, trade, transportation systems 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. In Berlin in 2003 the damage to forests remain stable with 25% visible damages, compaired to the region on a higher level. 22% of the forest area displayed no visible damage symptoms (Stage 0), 53% showed slight damage (Stage 1). In Brandenburg damage to forests remained unchanged for about the past 8 years. Since 1999 the significant damages has been rising constant for 4 % to current 11 %. Half of the forest area remains, also for 2003, without visible damages. The drop in medium tree-top thinning with 15 % is relative low, but tendential rising. (Forest Condition Report 2003 - only in german).

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 constitutes a grave problem. Formerly species-rich moist meadows show clear steppe formation and overuse symptoms. Mires such as the Teufelsbruch (Devil's Swamp) and the Greater Rohrpfuhl dry up; the mire vegetation is driven back by shrub formation. A large part of water requirements was covered by wells in the forests. Groundwater-dependent forest lands in some cases displayed considerable drought damage. The rare and very endangered swamp and riparian forests were especially affected. Because of the steep decline in water consumption and reduced groundwater discharge quantities since 1990, the groundwater levels have been rising again, especially in the southeastern part of Berlin - by several meters near producing wells.

History of State Nature Conservation

The beginning of conservation legislation in Germany was marked by the establishment of the "State Office for Natural Monument Care" in Danzig (Gdansk), 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 animals, of natural monuments and their surroundings, as well as of nature protection areas and other landscape elements 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 World War II, conservation played only a very subordinate role. Only after the elementary needs of life were ensured and everyday life was normalized could conservation activities develop again. Due to the division of Germany, different social systems emerged, which was 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 Agency for Nature Conservation, 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, basec 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 finally amended again on July 10th 1999.

In the German Democratic Republic (GDR/ East Germany), the Conservation Law - "Law for the Conservation and Care of 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) replaced the Conservation Law in 1970. 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 Landscape Beauty" (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 Protection Areas (NSG), Landscape Protection Areas (LSG), Large-Scale Natural Monuments (FND), Natural Monuments (ND) and Protected Parks.

During the preparatory phase of the union of the two German states, stipulations for the development of a German Environmental 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 July 1st 1990, East Germany undertook the obligation to adopt West German environmental law almost completely. 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 Hither-Pomeranian Bodden Landscape, the Jasmund, the Müritz National Park, the High Harz, the Saxon Schweiz, and the Schorfheide-Chorin Biosphere Reserve and the Nature Park Märkische Schweiz. Under Art. 9 of the Unification Agreement, which specified the agreements met between the two countries on the accession of East Germany to the Federal Republic, some stipulations in the Environmental Law providing guidelines for conservation were to be continued temporarily as state law. The temporary safeguards under Art. 6 §5 for the preservation of protected areas were retained, and existing protection stipulations were implemented under Art. 6 §8.

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 two city halves, the Berlin Conservation Law (NatSchGBln) of 1979 became applicable to 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 stipulations under Art. 19 of the Unification Agreement, according to which the continued validity of single directives, but not of laws or ordinances, would have been 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 unsuccessful.

The examination of protected areas existing in East Berlin up to 1990 – more than 810 protected areas and objects covering 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 in which 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 or in the Berlin Conservation Law, which could have caused areas to be carried over into a "legal limbo" status;
  • often, legally prescribed landscape care plans were lacking for LSG areas;
  • precise maps of protected border areas were often unclear, frequently the maps were lacking;
  • some decisions had only insufficient prohibition 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 safeguards, which included a prohibition of modifications of the areas, were extended by one year. The greater part of these areas was established as an NSG in 1995. The areas not temporarily 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 provisions since 1990. The bulk of these areas falls under the State Forestry Law, which essentially prevents changes in utilization. Further areas are protected under the Water Supply Law, the Berlin Water Law, the Tree Protection Ordinance, the Park Law or the Cemetery Law.

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 Protection Areas (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 may 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 Protection Areas (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 any impairment which could 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.

Natural 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 of 5 ha can also be proclaimed as natural monuments (large-scale natural monuments). Natural monuments include, among other things, old or rare trees or groups of trees, geological formations, springs, glacial boulders, bogs, and spawning and nesting areas. The removal of a natural monument, or any act which leads to the destruction, damage, change or enduring disturbance of a natural monument and its protected environment, is forbidden.

Protected Landscape Elements (GLB; §22) are legally established parts of nature and the landscape for which 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 promote the restoration and care of the landscape, and provide protection against damaging environmental effects.

Nature Parks (§22a) were incorporated under the law due to the change in the NatSchGBln of March 30th 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, the following biotopes are legally protected:

  1. mires, 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 for the Certification of Protection Areas

Information on the procedure for the certification of protected areas can be found in the section Conservation in Berlin (only in german).

Landscape Planning

Landscape Planning (§§3-13) integrates conservation and landscape care into the overall urban zoning plan. Under 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 June 23rd 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 municipal area. At the second level of landscape planning, landscape plans, which are generally legally binding, 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. TheBrandenburg Conservation Law (BbgNatSchG) took effect on June 30th 1992.

Section 4 – Protection Certifications – explains the various protection classes: National Parks, Nature Protection Areas, Landscape Protection Areas, Natural 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 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 into several counties, the ministry is likewise responsible.

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 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 §§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 state of Brandenburg requires that this be justify. Under the law, landscape plans are to be prepared with priority given 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 certification of certain areas and for further conservation measures of the subordinate conservation authority.

For further information about nature conservation in Brandenburg see LUGV Brandenburg and Ministerium für Umwelt, Gesundheit und Verbraucherschutz (MUGV).

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