Berlin Environmental Atlas

06.03 Open-Space Development (Edition 2013)

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Green and open spaces are defined as non- or minimally built-up areas, such as woods, fields, allotment gardens, sports areas, parks and fallow areas. They are of great importance for the quality of life within a city. The existence of a variety of open spaces, from near-residential parks up to farmland and wooded areas, is a prerequisite for the fulfilment of the needs of residents for relaxation.

Green and open spaces enrich the urban features by their contribution to the residential structure of a city. They serve as habitats and retreats for plants and animals, and fulfil important compensatory functions for the urban ecosystem of the city. They improve the urban climate, promote air circulation and air exchange, and moderate warming. They relieve surface waters by retaining and permitting the evaporation of rain water.
As pervious areas, they enable undisturbed soil life, with all the ensuing effects for the ecological balance. The soil is a decomposition, compensation, and construction medium for processes of material transformation; its filtration, buffering, and metabolic qualities also serve, particularly, the protection of the groundwater. Increased impervious soil coverage and substance input into the soil can destroy its functions permanently or even irreversibly.

In the context of the environmental discourse, there is a great need for precise data on the extent of land consumption, and its developments during recent years and decades. These data are needed both to define quality goals for soil protection, and as indicators for the discourse on sustainability.
In addition to the Environmental Atlas map described here, there are two resources for observing the spatial aspects of the various land uses in Berlin, which can be consulted for a description of land consumption. Due to their differing goals and methodologies, each of these three sources has arrived at different results. Please see the chapter on Methodology for an excursus on the "Methodology / Supplementary Notes."

Developments in Germany

According to the Federal Statistical Office, which uses the only figures available for a nationwide comparison of the figures from the statistical offices of the German states, a continuous increase in residential and traffic areas to 130 hectares per day could be observed in Germany up to the turn of the millennium. The areas thus consumed, primarily at the expense of farmland and forest, dropped to 99 hectares per day in 2003, only to increase to 131 hectares per day again in 2004. Since then, land consumption decreased to 77 ha per day in 2010. In 2002, the Federal Government adopted the "30 ha goal" into the German Sustainable Development Strategy. It states that land consumption for residential and traffic purposes are to be reduced to 30 ha per day by 2020 (cf. Federal Statistical Office, Sustainable development in Germany, Indicator report 2012, only in German).
The chapter "Land-use and urban land consumption" of the Regional Planning Report 2011 (Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning 2011, only in German) presents additional data and analyses on land consumption at national level.

Developments in Berlin

In Berlin, as elsewhere in the Federal Republic, the increase in residential area was carried out mainly at the expense of farmland. The consumption of open spaces for residential purposes proceeded within the city limits.

The 20-year period through 2010 was marked by a continued low consumption of space. In the excursus "Methodology / Supplementary Notes", Table 3 presents land consumption based on three different sources. Further information can be found in the report of the Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment, Department I A on Land-use development in Berlin 1991 - 2010 - 2030 (SenStadtUm 2011, only in German).

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