Category Wild Urban Woodlands

Two cultural layers

To maintain the visibility of the remnants of the railway history in the face of the powerful natural dynamics, selected railway relics such as the sig­nals and the old turntable were restored. The many paths set in the old tracks are a permanent reminder of the cultural foundation of the nature development of the Sudgelande. A new cultural layer has been established through the art works of the Odious group, which present a creative ten­sion with the developing wilderness as well as with the relics of the rail­way (Fig. 10). The water tower was secured as a landmark of the Sudgelande (Fig. 5), old buildings were surrendered to a controlled decay or are used for the exhibition or as studios for the artists.


Is the Natur-Park Sudgelande a good example of a successful integrati...


Nature conservation and recreation

Most of the Natur Park Sudgelande is protected; the core area has been designated as a nature reserve (3.2 ha) and the rest as a landscape conser­vation area (12.9 ha). In the nature reserve, species conservation takes pri­ority. The targeted species are, above all, insects of open habitats and plants of the dry grasslands, such as several rare hawkweed (Hieracium) species. The clearings, which may not be entered by the public, are cared for in such a way as to give the characteristic species of the open landscape a chance to survive. The landscape conservation area is to be fully accessi­ble. Dangerous areas that aren’t visible (e. g. shafts) were secured before the park was opened. The defined rooms are stabilized through mainte­nance measures...


Definition of a room typology

In order to make clear, in accordance with the general model, the trans­formation from railyard to urban wilderness over time, the natural dynam­ics of some areas are arrested. In this way, three types of spaces or “rooms” were defined: “clearings” are to be kept free of shrubs over the long term. Stands that are light and open are to be maintained as “groves,” while in the “wild woods” the natural dynamics can proceed fully unfet­tered.

The spatial determination of the three types was carried out according to nature conservation and landscape aesthetic criteria...


Implementation of the model

Figure 1 shows the Natur Park Sudgelande today, after significant imple­mentation of the master plan. A few new elements were added to our plan­ning during the implementation phase, including additional paths and the integration of works of art in the nature park.

Access concept

Starting from the park’s main entrance at the S-Bahn station Priesterweg, a path system was developed that is based, fundamentally, on the linear structure of the earlier railyard. Here train tracks were made into paths (Fig. 2). Existing ramps and underpasses that once served for crossing the tracks were used to establish the path system on three different levels. Through this inclusion of the third dimension, quite different views of the area result...


The model of culture and wilderness

The approach of the master plan was based on the model of simultaneity of culture and wilderness, of distance and nearness of the visitor. To imple­ment this, a concept of zoned spaces was created in which natural and so­cial processes were partially controlled and partially left to their own dy­namics. With this approach, different goals could be combined with one another.

• In some areas, uncontrolled development of the new wilderness is al­lowed, without influence on the species composition. In this way, the

important role of non-native species in the vegetation of the Sudgelande and as a characteristic of urban vegetation was expressly accepted.

• In other areas, the open landscapes are maintained, within which succes­sion is to be controlled through maintenance...


The “wilderness versus biodiversity” conflict

In general, species diversity is greater in the earlier and middle stages of succession than in later woodland stages. This is true for the Sudgelande as well with one small exception. The 40- to 50-year-old black locust stands have shown themselves to be astoundingly rich in plants, ground beetles, and spiders (Kowarik 1992; Platen and Kowarik 1995). Rare and threat­ened species of plants as well as hymenoptera, however, are predominantly found in the dry grasslands (Prasse and Ristow 1995; Saure 2001). A sub­stantial increase in woodlands would emphasize the wilderness character of the Sudgelande, but would also lead to a decline in the characteristic species and communities of the open landscapes.

Thus, the master plan for the Natur-Park Sudgelande had to address two challenges: first...


The “conservation versus recreation” conflict

The species diversity of the Sudgelande (Table 2) has, in principle, devel­oped without human intervention. The dry grasslands, in which most of the rare species are found, have emerged on nutrient-poor anthropogenic soils and are not suited to being trampled. If the small clearings of the grass­lands are made accessible to visitors, eutrophication and trampling will foreseeably lead to a decline of most of the rare species. Excluding visi­tors, however, contradicts the goal of urban nature conservation, which is, above all, to promote natural experiences for urban residents (Auhagen and Sukopp 1983)...


From new wilderness to nature park

The development of new wilderness took place at the Sudgelande nearly unnoticed for a long time due to the inaccessibility of the site. Plans to completely clear the vegetation in order to erect a new freight train station led, at the beginning of the 1980s, to strong protests and to the founding of an NGO which has worked since then to preserve the Sudgelande as a na­ture area. As a result of these efforts, a number of studies were undertaken that demonstrated the high species richness and the presence of rare spe­cies at the Sudgelande (Table 2). At the end of a very changeful planning process (details in Mohrmann 2002), it was determined that the Sudge – lande would be set aside and developed as a nature park as a compensatory measure for new railyards in the inner city area...


From freight railyard to “new wilderness”

The Sudgelande, approximately 18 ha, lies on the southern border of the inner city of Berlin in the district of Schoneberg-Tempelhof It is a compo­nent of a much larger freight railyard (“Rangierbahnhof bei Tempelhof’) that was built between 1880-1890. Old photographs show a desolate railyard on which trains have been shunted on a multitude of parallel tracks. Tracks for the long-distance trains as well as for the inner-city ex­press train define the area to the east and west. From the north and the south, heavily trafficked streets adjoin the site, with the result that the Sudgelande has an island-like character despite its urban location.

After train service was discontinued in 1952, the Sudgelande was mostly, but not entirely, abandoned...


Natur-Park Siidgelande: Linking Conservation and Recreation in an Abandoned Railyard in Berlin

Ingo Kowarik, Andreas Langer Planning Group OkoCon & Planland


The particular political situation in Berlin between 1945 and 1989 had sig­nificant effects on the development of nature in the inner city. In the west­ern part of Berlin, urban development ran in slow motion for four decades. In contrast to other parts of war-torn Europe, here large, formerly built-up areas that had been destroyed in the war remained free of renewed devel­opment; these areas were set aside as reserves to allow for future planning with Berlin as the capital city. In four decades, natural colonization proc­esses on numerous, often heavily fragmented areas led from herbaceous and shrub stages to wild urban woodlands...