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Berlin Environmental Atlas

01.11 Criteria for the Evaluation of the Soil Functions (Edition 2018)

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01.11.3 Near-Natural Quality

Description

In the Berlin city area, soils have been changed greatly by anthropogenic influence. The “near-natural” quality describes the extent of those changes compared to the original natural state of the soils. Changes here include the mixing of the soils’ natural horizons, the removal of soil material, or the overlaying with foreign materials. Substance inputs and lower groundwater levels are not considered here. Based on the Soil Association Map and information on land use, an overview of the extent of anthropogenic change, and hence the degree to which Berlin’s soils and soil associations are near-natural is provided.

This aspect is particularly important, as it can be assumed that natural soil characteristics and the diversity of soil properties have primarily been preserved in locations that have undergone little change, whereas anthropogenic influence has led to the homogenization of soil types and their properties. Even the legend items for the Soil Associations Map already distinguish between near-natural and anthric soil associations.

Methodology

To determine the near-natural quality of soils, Blume and Sukopp (1976) introduced the term "hemerobic levels", analogous to the term hemerobia in botany. Accordingly, various land-use forms were classified into what are called hemerobic levels, according to their degree of cultural effect on ecosystems. Grenzius used this system in 1987 to describe the anthropogenic influence on soils and soil associations in the Map of Soil Associations of Berlin (West), 1985.

Grenzius subdivided the hemerobic levels further, depending on land use (cf. Tab. 1). The underlying idea was that the different ways humans use areas cause changes of different types and magnitude as well as the destruction of natural soil.

The classification of the areas is shown in Tab. 1 according to use, by various authors.

Tab. 1: Evaluation of the near-natural quality based on hemerobics
  Extent of soil alterations Example of area use Criteria Near-natural
  not altered no occurrence in Berlin    
  very slightly altered no occurrence in Berlin    
1 slightly altered Forest naturally grown soils influenced slightly by anthropogenic use highly
2 slightly to moderately altered Outdoor park (e.g. landscape park) topsoil influenced slightly by anthropogenic use fairly
3 moderately changed Meadow and pasture topsoil influenced slightly by anthropogenic use
4 Farmland topsoil influenced by anthropogenic use
5 Park, Green space, Cemetery, Allotment garden, Tree nursery Weekend cottage area, Camping ground, Residential area with < 30 % impervious soil coverage soils (partially aggraded soils) present in the topsoil and sometimes in the subsoil influenced by anthropogenic use
6 highly altered used as sewage farm at point of mapping soils strongly influenced by anthropogenic use in the topsoil an moderately influenced in the subsoil slightly
7 very highly altered Park in the inner city (mainly on aggradations), Allotment garden on excavation or aggradation), Fallow area, Military training area, Surface mining, Track area; Landfills whole soil structure strongly altered, mainly aggraded soils
8 extremely altered Sport facility, Outdoor swimming pool; Residential area *) with impervious soil coverage between 30 % and 60 % whole soil structure very strongly altered, mainly aggraded soils very slightly
9 City square, Track facility, Residential area *) with impervious soil coverage of > 60 % Overall very strongly changed soil due to ground construction, predominently deposited area
10 Residential area *) with impervious soil coverage of > 90 % soils completely altered by abrasion and deposits, compacting etc.
*) Residential area includes the following land uses, Residential area, Mixed area, Commercial and Industrial area, Public facilities, Utilities area and Traffic area
Note: Categories 1-5 are generally located on near-natural soil associations, categories 6-10 on anthric soil associations (cf. Map 01.01 Soil Associations.)

Tab. 1: Evaluation of the near-natural quality based on hemerobics according to Blume and Sukopp (1976); Blume (1990); Grenzius(1985); Stasch, Stahr, Sydow (1991)

Since there are no soils in Berlin that remain completely unaltered, the categories of unaltered or very slightly altered soils were not considered. Accordingly, the categories for the evaluation of Berlin soils were redefined, based on the classification criteria of Blume (1990), Grenzius (1985) and Stasch, Stahr, Sydow (1991).

Data on soil associations, use, area type and degree of impervious coverage were used to determine how near-natural soils are. From these values, an automated classification was carried out as an initial aggregation step. This involved developing combinations of soil associations, uses and degrees of impervious soil coverage under partial consideration of the area type. These were then assigned to the appropriate categories for the near-natural quality (levels 1-10 in Grenzius, according to Tab. 1).

Selected land uses, such as green spaces and park facilities, fallow areas etc., required an individual assessment of their near-natural quality. Soils in parks and green spaces as well as in fallow areas may have been altered to varying degrees. In general, inner city soils have either been changed considerably or have been newly formed by anthropogenic aggradation. Oftentimes, near-natural soils associated with the same use are located on the outskirts of the city. Some of these soils may have been altered very slightly. The near-natural quality of these areas was therefore determined on a case-by-case basis with the aid of topographical maps, protected area maps and expert reports.

For the presentation in this map, an assessment based on four categories, ranging from "very low" to "high", was carried out (cf. Tab. 2, according to Lahmeyer 2000).

Tab. 2: Evaluation of the near-natural quality, based on levels
Level, according to Tab. 1 Level Designation
1 4 high
2 - 5 3 medium
6 - 7 2 low
8 - 10 1 very low
Tab. 2: Evaluation of the near-natural quality, based on levels

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