City Nature - Urban biodiversity as a cross-border project between Vienna and Bratislava
Vienna and Bratislava are both green, species-rich cities connected by the green band of the Danube wetlands. Both cities are expected to grow considerably over the next decades. As a smart city, Vienna’s goal is to maintain 50% of the urban area as green areas. At the same time, the need for recreational areas adds to the pressure on green areas. Solutions are needed to consolidate all needs - those seeking recreational space, and those of nature itself, as the basis of recreation. However, both cities are also facing the process of increasing urban density and renewal. Under these conditions, it is especially important to preserve and promote nature’s vibrancy and its ability to provide unique experiences in cities. This requires sets of measures; on buildings, in recreational areas, and regarding the dissemination of nature preservation.
The Interreg SK-AT project from priority 2 (Protection and enhancement of natural and cultural heritage and biodiversity) is set to last 36 months and has a total budget of 1.67 million euros. The city of Bratislava with MLB (Mestske lesy v Bratislave) is lead partner, the Vienna Municipal Department for Environmental Protection - MA 22 is the Austrian project partner. In Slovakia, DAPHNE (Inštitút aplikovanej ekologie) acts as a second project partner, and eight more strategic project partners contribute to optimising the results.
The main focus of the project is the active involvement of citizens. Practical measures for the preservation of biodiversity, the ability to experience it and its dissemination, are set to encourage individuals to contribute to preserve biodiversity.
Overview of the individual City Nature Projects
- Meadow care with volunteers
- Monitoring of bat populations & types of meadows
- Exhibition “Urban development & Nature conservation” with many interactive elements
- Professional excursions
- Workshops with experts
- First cross-border day of biodiversity
- Service website on “flowered areas” and “Habitations”
- Establishment of a service centre in Bratislava
Work package Communication
Knowledge enhancement through specific information activities, info events, workshops, excursions, education and training programmes, as well as through other measures cited in the work packages
Enhancing awareness of environmental protection and its individual target groups
The following activities are part of this work package: creation of information materials (posters, info panels, roll-ups, folders, promo items) and press releases, as well as the organisation of info events, the creation and maintenance of the project website, a kick-off meeting, and a closing conference.
Work package Theory & Concepts - Development of methods, strategies, and practices to preserve and enhance biodiversity in urban areas
Joint development of methods to maintain biodiversity in the ecosystems of the twin-city region, in the NATURA 2000 areas, and in the areas connected to them; joint preparation to implement the proposed measures in the pilot areas of work package 4.
The objective is to find efficient and sustainable methods and measures to improve the protection and the management of the selected habitats.
- Development of effective and sustainable ways and measures to increase biodiversity in meadows in urban areas
- Conception of a monitoring system as well as of preservation and promotional measures for selected endangered species
- Development of strategies for a long-term preservation of meadow care from a nature conservation point of view
- Conception of ways to inform and involve the public in the preservation and enhancement of biodiversity
- Improvement of the status, the protection, and the management of selected habitats
This theoretical work package lays the foundation for the practical activities contained in work packages 4 and 5.
The preservation of biodiversity in urban areas requires special procedures as well as the creation of specific approaches tailored to the situation. This work package is mainly about the development of a joint concept for the preservation and promotion of meadow biotopes and of biodiversity in urban areas. The concept contains the creation and compilation of basics that are typical for the region, the creation of mappings for flora and fauna as well as the definition of indicator species and the development of methods to evaluate the proposed measures. Moreover, the methods suitable for the care of the areas must be analysed, and the different possibilities when it comes to care, use of the mowed material, and contribution of interested members of the public must be developed. The concept will be developed through the involvement of different experts on plant ecology, fauna, flora, and landscape maintenance, and the ways of implementation with the interested public will be assessed. Two workshops will cover methods, strategies, and practices for the preservation of biodiversity. The three levels hereby involved are habitats, animal and plant species, and maintenance and care options.
The assessment regarding implementation of the developed methods will be carried out on 11 hectares of pilot habitats (work package 5); mappings for this are the content of work package 4.
Work package Surveying and monitoring
This work package contains mapping and monitoring of meadow communities, bats and bird species in Bratislava and Vienna, based on the results of work package 3 (theory & concepts). Due to the varying experience of the partners and the similar range of species in both cities, the partners will be able to methodically build off each other and directly compare their results.
Merging of current research projects with involvement of the public.
MA22 and DAPHNE focus on the research of endangered habitats and animals in urban areas:
- Meadow communities accommodate different characteristic flora and fauna, which may indicate the state of the individual areas. In order to give the broad public an understanding of the quality of the areas maintained within work package 5 and to draw conclusions about the success of the implemented measures, the local flora and fauna shall be surveyed, as indicators of the state of the areas, at the beginning and at the end of the project. This will be part of the first expert workshop and will include public involvement.
- Several bat and bird species are synanthropic and have thus always lived close to humans. As some of these species have their primary distribution areas in cities, while at the same time depending on protective measures, they are especially suited to teach about their significance of urban biodiversity. The house martin and several types of bats will be surveyed to illustrate typical indicator species of urban areas as part of two research projects while also involving the public. Conclusions on protective measures shall be drawn from the results.
The research and monitoring results will be gathered with the active support of the public. They will be part of the environmental education and forest pedagogy programme (work package 6) and will be forwarded to schools as well as to the wider public and experts.
Work package Implementation of concepts & maintenance work in the habitats - innovative practices in pilot habitats (SK) and in selected meadow habitats (AT)
Based on the conceptual results, which will be derived from the practical findings on site and from the pilot measures on meadow care during the two workshops (work package 3), meadow care and maintenance shall be carried out together with the interested public.
- Practical implementation of the methods, strategies and practices for the preservation of biodiversity on the levels of habitats, species, and habitat maintenance, according to work package 3.
- 11 hectares of meadow care --taking into account environmental protection.
The preservation of meadows through adequate care in growing cities is increasingly caught between recreational function, preservation of biodiversity of typical biotopes, flora and fauna, resource availability, and compliance with national and international environmental protection laws. Meadow care with environmental protection in mind is no longer considered significant by city dwellers who are increasingly alienated from nature. Lack of knowledge across the population, in turn, makes it harder to create an understanding for the particular care required by areas that are valuable from an environmental protection point of view. The involvement of the public with the meadow care designed in this work package is set to take this fact into account and remedy it. A total of 11 hectares of meadow area shall be maintained, with the objective of creating optimal conditions for development in terms of environmental protection.
Work package New public products and services, accompanying measures to raise awareness among the public
As part of this work package, the project partners shall develop and present products and services necessary to improve the management methods of environmental protection.
The objective is to expand awareness of the environment among the greater public and to change people’s attitude with regard to use of urban habitats and their management in urban areas. This is to preserve biodiversity in Bratislava and Vienna and the entire Twin-City region.
The implementation is set up as two information points (Bratislava info centre Kamzík and Service Centre - City Nature Wien) and also as other events that aim to raise awareness.
Bratislava info centre Kamzík (also see work package 7)
In this info centre, MLB and DAPHNE will collaborate with strategic partners to provide environmental education in three languages (ger, sk, en): for the interested (expert) public, but especially also for schools. This includes joint specialist symposia and cross-border events organised by experts on environmental protection and sustainability.
MLB and DAPHNE are set to start pilot operation of the info centre between 10/2020 and 5/2021. Preliminary results of the pilot operation shall be directly considered in work package 4 for the environmental education and forest pedagogy programme for future visitors of the Kamzík info centre. The info centre’s opening hours will be working days and during the weekend. On weekdays, the info centre will provide a well-structured programme for groups, whereas the weekend is assumed to be the time when individual visitors or families with children will use the object itself and visit the arboretum. Beside the educational programmes, visitors have daily access to information about the location of the MLB management in the Little Carpathians as well as about natural landmarks and recreational facilities in nature.
Service Centre - City Nature:
The MA 22 will create a service post - “Service Centre - City Nature”, in order to improve public relations and communication with the general public on questions of city-specific environmental protection. The service will be made available as a website, consultations, and trainings on several levels.
Partners of the MLB, MA22, and DAPHNE will organise a number of events for experts and the wider public, in order to raise awareness and increase public interest in the process of environmental protection and the preservation of biodiversity. Folders, exhibitions, excursions, an open house event in Bratislava, the “First cross-border day of biodiversity” in Vienna as well as excursion for the wider public are all part of the programme.
Work package Info centre THE MLB launch the first info centre in the Little Carpathians on the territory of the capital of Slovakia, Bratislava - Info Centre Kamzík
Launch of the first info centre “Bratislava - Info centre KAMZÌK”
Expansion and adaptation of the current, unused building on the MLB-Kamzík area to turn it into a multifunctional information centre for the public.
The lot of land, which belongs to the city and is managed by MLB, currently houses a recreational lodge used as a seasonal business. The current structural state of the building is not optimal. The adjoining area is densely covered with a large variety of trees, which were once planted as an arboretum. It is currently overgrown and reverted to scrubland and therefore not publicly accessible. The location of the lot, according to the MLB, at a street junction in Kamzík and near the cableway presupposes its use as a public service point. The possibility to reconstruct the building and to expand its functions for the benefit of the public would fulfil the long-term demand for more ways to provide environmental education inside the Bratislava forest park.
The new object includes:
- A visitor info centre accessible from the road,
- public bathrooms,
- a multi-purpose room for environmental education and events promoting cross-border institutional cooperation between environmental partners,
- two offices, one kitchen, and a storage facility.
The following activities are planned for the outdoor area:
- property renovation,
- covered pavilions for outdoor activities,
- Arboretum recultivation,
- Set-up of a network of nature trails through the arboretum,
- environmental education and recreational areas
MA22 C. Houdek