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Greening Berlin

Greening Berlin: The Co-Production of Science, Politics, and Urban Nature

Jens Lachmund
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    Greening Berlin
    Book Description:

    Although nature conservation has traditionally focused on the countryside, issues of biodiversity protection also appear on the political agendas of many cities. One of the emblematic examples of this now worldwide trend has been the German city of Berlin, where, since the 1970s, urban planning has been complemented by a systematic policy of "biotope protection" -- at first only in the walled city island of West Berlin, but subsequently across the whole of the reunified capital. In Greening Berlin, Jens Lachmund uses the example of Berlin to examine the scientific and political dynamics that produced this change. After describing a tradition of urban greening in Berlin that began in the late nineteenth century, Lachmund details the practices of urban ecology and nature preservation that emerged in West Berlin after World War II and have continued in post-unification Berlin. He tells how ecologists and naturalists created an ecological understanding of urban space on which later nature-conservation policy was based. Lachmund argues that scientific change in ecology and the new politics of nature mutually shaped or "co-produced" each other under locally specific conditions in Berlin. He shows how the practices of ecologists coalesced with administrative practices to form an institutionally embedded and politically consequential "nature regime." Lachmund's study sheds light not only on the changing place of nature in the modern city but also on the political use of science in environmental conflicts, showing the mutual formation of science, politics, and nature in an urban context.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-31242-4
    Subjects: Political Science, Environmental Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)

    In May of 2000, the German capital of Berlin witnessed the festive opening of a “nature park” at the Südgelände, a former railroad yard in the densely populated district of Schöneberg. The yard had been severely damaged during World War II and had been abandoned after the political division of the city. Although material relics from the railway past gave the site some significance, that was not the main reason for the park’s creation. Since about 1980, nature conservationists, ecologists, and activists in West Berlin (which was still walled in) had opposed plans for rebuilding the site and instead called...

  5. 1 Traditions of Urban Greening
    (pp. 19-46)

    Since the late nineteenth century, Berlin has witnessed continuous efforts to promote nature and greeneries in the city. This included not only the creation of parks, the planting of trees and other forms of urban horticulture, but also the preservation of extraordinary pieces of the natural landscape in its suburbs and direct surroundings. As I will show, it has been a constant motive of these policies thatnatureorgreen(the two terms were often used interchangeably) was needed as compensation for the negative sides of the modern metropolis. By providing fresh air, light, aesthetic experiences, and quiet recreation ground,...

  6. 2 Ecologyʹs Natures
    (pp. 47-88)

    In 1973 Herbert Sukopp published a programmatic article in which he pleaded for the recognition of the metropolis as an object of ecological research. In contrast to the widespread notion among ecologists that cities were always hostile to life, existing evidence on the urban flora and fauna had made it clear, according to Sukopp, that cities did indeed provide space for a considerable number of plant and animal species. Although in cities nature had been almost completely reshaped through intensive human land use, they should be conceived as variegated sets of ecosystems or biotopes that had their own characteristics. Rather...

  7. 3 The Emergence of a Policy: Ecologists and the Species Protection Program
    (pp. 89-124)

    In December of 1978, the Abgeordnetenhaus approved a Nature Conservation Act, which obliged the Senate to develop a Landscape Program (Landschaftsprogramm) that would include a Species Protection Program (Artenschutzprogramm).¹ In contrast to the piecemeal approach of traditional nature conservation, the Landscape Program was meant to stipulate development goals that would help to improve “nature and landscape” throughout the entire territory. Whereas other parts of the program covered the “natural household” and the recreation function of the landscape, the Species Protection Program aimed specifically at the protection and promotion of wild plant and animal species. After nearly ten years of preparatory...

  8. 4 Building Communities, Forming Alliances
    (pp. 125-160)

    The rise of ecological planning in Berlin was not only due to the dynamics of ecological knowledge production that the city had witnessed since the end of the war. It also reflected the extent to which critical publics within West Berlin had come to acknowledge urban nature as an object of concern and political action. In this chapter I will look at different political communities that coalesced around the regime of urban biotope protection and that supported its central concern against adversaries in the administration, the local government, and the business sector. All these communities represented segments of the new...

  9. 5 Places in the Making: From Wastelands to Urban Nature Parks
    (pp. 161-194)

    The Species Protection Program provided a blueprint for the reorganization of Berlin’s urban space on the basis of ecological knowledge. It was through more specific site-focused projects, however, that the goals of the program actually became implemented. In this chapter I will use the example of urban wastelands or ruderal areas, as ecologists also called them, to zoom in on the dynamics through which the biotope-protection regime materialized in the cultural and material order of urban space. More then any other of the biotope types that ecologists had distinguished in their surveys, wastelands became the focus of long-lasting and socially...

  10. 6 From Conservation to Mitigation: The Management of Urban Encroachments into Nature
    (pp. 195-220)

    Even if they were supported by broad alliances of activists, many of the conservation claims that ecologists had pushed forward in the Species Protection Program failed because in planning policy, priority was given to other development goals. Exempting spaces from development, however, has been only one strategy through which urban nature conservation has sought to realize its goals. Another strategy took the potential impact of a development project as a starting point. In this case, planners provided for technical means of landscape shaping which were meant to mitigate the projects’ deteriorating effects or even to create alternative ecosystems and habitats...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 221-236)

    Cognitive and social innovations in the field sciences have often been connected to specific places. One might think here of the Galapagos Islands and evolutionary biology, the slopes of the Andes and vegetation geography, Chicago and urban sociology, or the villages of the Nuer and anthropology. 1 Berlin has played a similarly pivotal role for the emergence of an ecology of the city. Although such research has also been conducted elsewhere, it developed here with an intensity and relative constancy that has probably been unparalleled in the world. In this book I have focused on two aspects of this evolution:...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 237-274)
  13. References
    (pp. 275-312)
  14. Index
    (pp. 313-320)