Federal government has adopted urban nature master plan

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Targets fall short of the Urban Greening White Paper.

On 6 June 2019, the Federal Government adopted the "Urban Nature Master Plan". It contains a 26-point programme of measures to support local authorities. The federal government has only included measures that are the responsibility of the federal government.

The Association of German Landscape Architects welcomes the Federal Government's action plan for a vibrant city. However, in view of the social debate on climate change and the urgent need for action in cities, the association would have preferred a more ambitious master plan.

In addition, we need an independent substantial funding programme for green infrastructure that ensures the continuation of successful concepts.

Till Rehwaldt, President of the bdla

Light and shade

Many objectives in the master plan are correct and welcome. The bdla sees an interesting starting point, for example, in the planned recommendations for action and guidelines for "professional planning". An initiative to promote the open space design plan in municipalities would, for example, be a sensible building block in the context of the concretisation that is now pending. The new funding priority for urban nature in the Federal Programme on Biological Diversity is also correct in principle, but in view of the low level of funding it is little more than a fig leaf.

The fundamental problem with the Masterplan is that the Federal Government is only implementing the White Paper on Urban Greening in a fragmentary way. The narrowing of the Masterplan to the focus on species and biotope diversity, which was already laid down in the coalition agreement, cannot be justified from a technical point of view and is criticised by the bdla and large parts of the professional world. Inevitably, the Federal Government cannot do justice to the White Paper on Urban Greening in this way. It is obvious that "Living Cities", as the Masterplan is formulated, can only be created through a multi-sectoral, comprehensive approach - by no means through an implementation programme for species and biotope diversity alone.

The bdla had already recommended in the context of the participation of associations that the programme of measures and, in particular, its subsequent implementation should focus on the potentials of multifunctional urban open spaces. In this way, the master plan would be clearly compatible with the Green and White Paper on Urban Green Spaces and the Federal Green Infrastructure Concept. Furthermore, the master plan would also have clearly complied with the current recommendations of the German Advisory Council on the Environment, which sees integrated concepts in particular as a means of promoting the necessary multifunctionality of open spaces.

Sticking points in BauGB reform and urban development funding

However, the Federal Government will soon be swearing in very specific political projects that did not even make it into the master plan. On the one hand, the master plan lacks a clear commitment to the next amendment of the building code, which will protect the landscape, nature and urban green spaces. The current discussion in the Federal Government on the deferral of the 13 b BauGB alone would counteract the Masterplan's fine pronouncements.

On the other hand, the master plan lacks a concrete positive objective for strengthening urban green infrastructures in the current reform of urban development funding. This reform would have to focus primarily on the various key challenges. These include climate adaptation, urban greening, environmental justice, etc. It follows inevitably from this that the content and structure of urban development funding should in future be designed in such a way that green infrastructures retain an appropriate position in the urban development funding system and are reliably provided with appropriate funding. However, the Federal Government is apparently planning the opposite: the "Zukunft Stadtgrün" ("Future Urban Green") funding programme, which has been successful in implementing complex open space development projects in many municipalities in recent years, is to be abolished.

Till Rehwaldt, president of the bdla, therefore calls on the federal government to continue to ensure the development and maintenance of urban green spaces in the urban development funding. "And in addition, we need an independent substantial funding program for green infrastructure that ensures the continuation of successful concepts."

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