Use and Perception of Post-Industrial Urban Landscapes in the Ruhr

Andreas Keil

Institute of Geography and Didactics of Geography, University of Dort­mund


In post-industrial landscapes, “new wild woodlands” emerge as a result of far-reaching structural changes to regions that were formerly dominated by heavy industry. In the German Ruhr area, this process started earlier and with a greater intensity than in other parts of Germany. Thus, a greater po­tential for urban-industrial woodlands (“nature of the fourth kind” ac­cording to Kowarik 2005) and corresponding activities by local people has arisen in the Ruhr.

To develop innovative strategies for abandoned industrial land was a main goal of the IBA Emscher Park (International Building Exhibition of the Emscher Park). The conceptual approaches were aimed at providing the following functions in the post-industrial urban landscape (see Dettmar and Ganser 1999; Dettmar 2005 on the Project “Industriewald Ruhrge – biet”):

• Compensation function for the balance of nature

• Protection of species and biotopes and creation of a ‘preserve’ for en­dangered species

• Political-pedagogical function

• Experience of nature and open space for town dwellers

• Preservation and transformation of industrial-cultural landscapes

• Variety and beauty

• Ecology and aesthetics

• Process observation

The importance of abandoned industrial land as an abiotic and espe­cially as a biotic resource has been demonstrated in several studies (Dett – mar 1992; Kowarik 1993; Ganser 1995; Rebele and Dettmar 1996). How-

Kowarik I, Korner S (eds) Wild Urban Woodlands.

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2005, pp 117-130

ever, less is known about the other functions and their potential for activi­ties of the local population.