Protecting urban nature?

The participants in the group discussions were asked to evaluate various forms of urban nature in terms of how worthy they were of protection and to prioritise them (see Fig. 2). The participants answered that there should be nature in the city and it should also be protected (from development,
commercial use). The large integrated parks in particular, the Auwald etc. should be retained. But roadside trees, yards covered with greenery and al­lotments should not be sacrificed for arterial roads either. Active personal contribution was ruled out (in the form of tree-sponsoring, horticultural care for a garden, helping to create a park, playground, inner courtyard etc.):

• people would only commit themselves to protecting fairly large parks or urban forests, and not for every little park or every roadside tree (e. g. in citizens’ action groups, petitions)

Protecting urban nature?

collecting an additional financial contribution or charging fees (e. g. en­trance to a park) was rejected

Fig. 2. Which forms of urban nature are worth protecting?

What criteria should one apply when deciding which natural urban forms are particularly worthy of protection and which not? If one con­siders Fig. 2 on the hierarchy of protection for urban nature, a few paral­lels arise with regard to the various forms of urban nature presented above
as far as their assessment in terms of attractiveness and naturalness is con­cerned. Forms of urban nature categorised here as being particularly wor­thy of protection are in general also those to which a more or less high level of attractiveness is ascribed (the Auwald, municipal parks and yards covered with greenery).

Why should nature in the city be protected? Urban nature is definitely regarded as something valuable (e. g. the municipal park), but not from an ecologically motivated position or from a (primary) perspective of nature conservation. Uniqueness, naturalness or diversity of species are not motifs that people put forward in support of nature conservation in the city. And if they do (as for example with the Auwald), then this is least of all true for spontaneous or fallow nature.

“Fresh air”, “hygiene”, “health” are catchwords that are used to plead for the protection of urban nature. The positive impact on the urban land­scape, i. e. aesthetic perceptions of variety, diversity and recreation are other factors justifying protection. Sweeping motifs such as “all nature is worth protecting” were also heard in the discussions.