20th New Year's Reception 2017

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20 years, that is a real reason to celebrate. What began as the New Year's reception of the Thuringian landscape architects has now become a permanent fixture and an important meeting place for the industry as the joint New Year's reception of the "green associations" bdla, DGGL and FGL.

Instead of the usual greetings and speeches, this year the organizers opted for an entertaining panel discussion on the topic of "Green Infrastructure". Moderated by the former managing director of the Thuringian Chamber of Architects, Gertrudis Peters, representatives of the two ministries responsible for green associations and the Thuringian State Institute for the Environment and Geology (TLUG) were to report in the Kanonenhof of the German Horticultural Museum on the value and appreciation of investments in green infrastructure in the Free State of Thuringia. According to Peters, the topic is currently on everyone's lips throughout Germany and the EU, and functional added value in particular is increasingly coming to the fore. One keyword, among others, is the promotion of resilience.

Anja Maruschky, Head of the Department for Urban Development, Urban Planning and School Construction Promotion in the Thuringian Ministry for Infrastructure and Agriculture, explained that green infrastructure is an important topic for sustainable urban development and has a cross-sectional task consisting of quality of life, ecology and green space development. Green infrastructure contributes a great deal to compensating for urban planning deficiencies. Her colleague Hans-Jürgen Schäfer, head of department at the Thuringian Ministry for the Environment, Energy and Nature Conservation, also sees growing importance in green infrastructure. For him, the topic is a matter of the heart. "But only with a cheese bell nature protection one would not do justice to the matter. What is also needed are landscape design elements that make nature tangible as a structural element in a cultural landscape," says Schäfer. A near-natural habitat and the design of nature are not mutually exclusive.

Using the example of the water framework guidelines, Martin Feustel, President of the Thuringian State Institute for the Environment and Geology, explained the close and positive cooperation between hydraulic engineers and landscape planners "We are not yet where we want to be, but now, after a long planning phase, we are moving into the implementation of many projects. In the coming years we will be creating new spaces on the watercourse and with the watercourse, and for this we need landscape architects and urban planners," says Feustel. In Eisenach, for example, 20 million euros have been invested in flood protection for the city.

Emotional was the statement of Thomas Bleicher, DGGL chairman in Thuringia and at the same time head of the building, green space and environmental office in Weimar. When asked how natural it is for cities, despite many budget difficulties, to also take care of green infrastructure, he first spoke of the distrust of the word combination. "But the discussion of green infrastructure also has a very positive moment in the terminology. It is simply equating green spaces with grey infrastructure. Green is necessary for our public services, it is simply indispensable. In competition with other social and urban concerns, one thing must be clear: we have limited resources to which we all have access. The main issue there is land availability. The sectoral thinking of only planning traffic areas or organising flood protection does not work. You can only solve something like this together."

Jens Heger, FGL President Hessen-Thüringen, still sees a large field of employment for green infrastructure. However, he also pointed out that maintenance was playing an increasingly minor role with local authorities. This, he said, was at the expense of quality. "You have to look at it as a whole. Not only the investment but also the follow-up costs have to be taken into account, i.e. permanent development maintenance. It makes no sense to bring green into the cities and not take care of it afterwards."

Werner Alkewitz, Thuringian bdla chairman, said in his statement how the image of green associations has changed in the past twenty years. In the first years much was done to be noticed. In the meantime, the profession of landscape architecture and its social relevance have been recognized. This also applies to the increasing importance of green infrastructure.

Already in the apron to the 20th New Year receipt Alkewitz looked optimistically on the coming months. Because with the state horticultural show in Apolda, there is an attractive major event that will once again promote the topic of "gardens". "Another State Garden Show for 2024 is already a done deal and with the five applicants Mühlhausen, Altenburg, the city triangle Saalfeld/Rudolstadt/Bad Blankenburg as well as Leinefelde-Worbis and Treffurt/Mihla/Creuzburg, exciting regions are represented. It is important for us that these shows become more firmly anchored in the minds of the population. To this end, it would be good to give early signals for further events in 2028 and 2032." A commission is currently being put together to take a close look at the candidate cities after the feasibility studies have been submitted in March. A decision on the venue for the 2024 show is then expected in the summer.

The state association is also satisfied with the current plans for the Federal Horticultural Show in Erfurt in 2021, saying that after the criticism voiced in previous years, 2016 was a good year for the future BUGA. "We had many reasons to criticise the state of planning, but now things are moving forward noticeably. The measures at egapark Erfurt, one of three BUGA sites, have been advanced and in part successfully implemented. There is also movement in the Nordpark. It will perhaps be the part of the site with the biggest surprises", says Alkewitz.

Meanwhile, there is still criticism of the consideration of Petersberg as a third site within the city. "Petersberg is and remains an irritant for us. We miss there the large contentwise step. There are ideas, but there is a lack of a solution. But I am pleased that after a long back and forth, there is finally a competent contact person on the part of the city who can now sort out all the sensitivities," explains Alkewitz.

As in previous years, the 20th New Year's reception in Thuringia was financially supported by the Lorberg tree nursery, Rinn Beton- und Natursteine and Leipziger Leuchten GmbH.

Jens Haentzschel

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