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FAQ - Frequenlty Asked Questions

This is where you will find answers to the most relevant questions on “flowered areas” and “habitats” in cities. To promote biodiversity in cities, we want to focus on these two topics and have thus created a preliminary FAQ. Many questions will be answered in greater detail on other pages of this website.

Do you have a burning question? Use our contact form to ask us! The list will be updated with a selection of the questions we receive.

What is a flowered area?

By flowered areas, we mean any flowering plant that provides food for local insects - and is a delight to the eyes. This may be a planter on your porch, a tree grid, the school garden, the façade of your building, or any other place where flowering plants can thrive. Ideally local, no peat, no pesticides!

What is a habitat?

When we talk about habitats, we mean any place in the city where animals can live. Bats often use narrow gaps to retreat and protect themselves. Some species of bird breed in recesses of façades or under roofs. Wild bees find tiny holes for their brood. There are so many ways to turn animals into your neighbours.

Nature conservation in cities is a thing?

Residential areas are becoming increasingly important for the preservation of biodiversity. The City of Vienna has been developing its Netzwerk Natur (Nature Network) now for many years. It is a species and habitat conservation programme with which many projects have already been successfully implemented.

We keep hearing about extinctions. Will my tiny garden really make a difference?

The denser the network of habitats, the better plants and animals will be able to conserve their stocks. Each little garden acts as a steppingstone and as a habitat and thus makes an important contribution. Vegetation also helps cool cities down and supports them in adapting to the climate and in reducing particulates and noise.

What are tree grids?

Tree grids are the unsealed areas around the trunks of trees, which are usually found between street and sidewalk in cities.

What are double flowers?

Double flowers are bred specifically to develop a higher number of petals or tepals. This makes it harder for insects to reach the nectar. It is thus advisable to grow herbs and flowers that are valuable for both humans and animals. This is how you can contribute to biodiversity.

Which balcony plants are best suited for bees, bugs, and butterflies?

There is a plethora of possibilities. Annual flowers, perennial shrubs, and sometimes also climbing plants, are among the most important. But we always need tailored solutions, as each balcony is different in height and exposure to sunlight; and the ideas and requests of its users also make it unique and special.

Can I try greening the roof of my garden shed or my carport without making it leaky?

Roof greening, just like any other roof, requires solid sealing. There are several ways to achieve this: Rubber sheets are just as inexpensive as polyethylene or polypropylene sheets. The important thing is not to use sheets with climate-damaging softening agents. If the sheet is covered with a separation tape as a mechanic protection and water storage, you're good to go!

But is roof greening only possible on flat roofs?

Roofs with up to 20% inclination can be home to colourful flower meadows. If more inclined, it is important to install a non-slip lattice on the roof, for instance with roof battens. Cable binders can be used as connectors. There is long-standing experience with this type of greening.

Can I really have a steppe grassland on my roof without having trees shoot up?

Substrate assembly is essential in this case and will determine whether a rocky grassland or a forest will grow. To achieve this, it is important to only add a small amount of substrate to the roof that it will dry out completely multiple times each summer, in this way tree seedlings that may have blown on the roof will die out. This way, you will create a steppe right in the city.

And how much difference does one greened roof really make?

Every greened roof cools the air, reduces summer heat, filters particulates, and retains often more than half of all rainwater. It is thus one of the most important building blocks for cities to adapt to changing climate. Moreover, by greening roofs, we insulate the rooms underneath. Rooms, especially those located directly under roofs can get extremely hot in summer. What is essential, though, is the creation of new flower meadows.

How can wild bees make a home on city balcony?

A simple log of wood with holes drilled into it provides a city nesting place for species like the European orchard bee. It gives her a suitable home from which she can reach the many flowers in the city.

Do only honeybees pollinate flowers?

There is only one type of honeybee, but more than 700 types of wild bees in Austria. Without them, we’d have serious problems getting fruit plants and the many wild plants pollinated. Hundreds of plant species depend on pollination.

Why are there so many common swifts in Bratislava?

The City of Bratislava has been promoting these aerial artists who arrive in Europe each spring for many years. Just like in Vienna, there are many Gründerzeit buildings in Bratislava with many wall projections and nooks for the swifts’ breeding places. During the thermal rehabilitation of buildings, many alternative habitats have been created.

How old is the annual day of biodiversity?

The first day of biodiversity was held in Vienna in 2000. Every year since, many interested citizens and researchers have ventured out into nature to explore Vienna’s biodiversity. In 2019, the first cross-border day of biodiversity was celebrated in collaboration with the City of Bratislava.

My mother has told me about lightning bugs, do they still exist?

Yes, they are called glow-worms and can be spotted on June evenings. We can promote their distribution in our gardens by letting wild herbs grow underneath the hedges. Species like ground-ivy, geranium, hedge woundwort or comfrey root create a micro-climate in which the small bugs can thrive.

Are all wild bee hotels equally suitable?

Several principles should be observed so that wild bees and other insects will feel at home in their new habitats. The bees’ needs are manifold, and our offer should reflect this. Some require horizontal, others vertical surfaces. Many other varieties look for hollow stalks or drill holes in old logs.

Who or what is a red mason bee?

The red mason bee is the insect of the year 2019. Luckily, it is one of the more frequently occurring species. We can spot in the spring and supports its habitat in cities.

Where and how do bees live?

The honeybee is a local species of bee whose colonies hibernate in the winter. All other bees have annual cycles. Many other species form colonies, such as bumblebees, which are also a type of bee. The majority live alone but like to join colonies now and then. Half of all wild bees are soil-dwelling species, who tend to build their nests individually in small burrows.