The German way to greenways and habitat networks
|Place of publication:||Hannover|
A prospective strategy is necessary to mitigate the negative impacts of habitat fragmentation in Germany. The traditional concept of protecting isolated remnants of endangered habitats as nature reserves could not stop the continuing decline of endangered species and the regional losses in biodiversity sufficiently. During the last century, different approaches to protect open space, species, and habitats have been developed. Based on a literature review, an analysis of the legal framework and a representative case study, this paper tries to characterise the development of greenways and habitat networks in Germany and to discuss the general possibilities and limitations in an European context. In Germany, greenways were first established to prevent urban sprawl, to separate settlements, to provide recreational opportunities and to improve air quality in industrialised urban areas. The increased relevance of nature conservation has led to the development of new types of habitat networks in addition to the greenway concept since 1980. Species-oriented habitat networks focus on the specific requirements of target species, while multifunctional habitat networks try to address many landscape functions when reconnecting the remnant habitats. The Kronsberg Project is an example of a local, multifunctional habitat network. It illustrates some of the implementation difficulties resulting from conflicting interests of the various user groups. In addition, the need became obvious to plan multifunctional networks which allow for spatial separation of conflicting site related objectives. The legal framework for habitat networks in Germany is, in principle, a sound legislation which requires that habitat networks cover a minimum of 10% of the total land area of the German states. The conceptualisation of the networks must not be restricted to the boundaries of the individual German states because the networks should have an interstate character and also contribute to the European network of Natura 2000. However, this national and European network cannot be presently implemented by the German national authorities. Instead, the framework legislation must be passed as nature conservation laws at the state level, while concrete implementation takes place at the regional and local levels. There the implementation is hampered primarily by property ownership considerations or conflicting interests of landowners. This situation hinders the implementation of national and European objectives for habitat networks. In order to create a forward looking network strategy for Germany, more authority should be transferred to the national level. In addition, a stronger link between the scientific and conceptual basis of habitat networks is needed. Prioritising landscape functions and the selection of target species require better coordination. Economic incentives could be used to reduce the conflicts with landowners. Hopefully, a change in the EU-agricultural policy will facilitate this development.