Wohnen.Viefalt.Natur.Lindenhof (Biodiversity at the Lindenhof Garden City Estate)

Urban habitats: in the Tempelhof-Schöneberg district of Berlin, a cooperative protects and enhances the natural habitats on the Lindenhof Garden City housing estate. Many of the 2,500 residents have become custodians for various green areas and actively promote the biodiversity cause.

 

How the Garden City evolved

The Lindenhof estate was planned at the end of the First World War in the form of a garden city whose residents would live a self-sufficient life. A glacial lake which is connected to a smaller pond and an adjacent woodlands lie at the heart of the estate. About eighty percent of the garden city was destroyed in the Second World War. When it was reconstructed in the 1950s and 1960s, the original self-sufficiency idea no longer played a role. Most of the gardens were dug up and turned into communal green areas, although some gardens belonging to intact houses were retained.

Today, the Lindenhof estate belongs to a housing cooperative (Genossenschaftliches Wohnen Berlin Süd eG) whose members and residents are actively engaged in conserving and broadening the estate’s natural resources and biodiversity.

 

Biodiversity conservation measures

In 151 gardens, residents of the historical single and quadruple-dwelling homes each tend an area measuring around 200 square metres. There are few stipulations as to how the areas should be used. As parts of the historical housing estate are refurbished, new gardens are created in efforts to return the area to its former state and revive the self-sufficiency idea.

The Lindenhof estate now boasts approximately 900 trees. In accordance with a maintenance plan, trees which have reached their biological age (about 200 in the next 10 years) will be replaced by fruit and crop-bearing trees typical of a garden city. Residents have launched a My Tree (Mein Baum) campaign to collect funds for new trees and a sapling is bought whenever the fund reaches €500. More than 50 trees have been planted since the campaign started in spring 2014 and adopted by residents’ groups, businesses and private individuals. By taking this approach, residents, members of the cooperative association and their friends enter into a kind of intergenerational contract. Each year, staff from the neighbourhood action group (Helfer im Kiez) collect around two tons of windfall fruit and make it into jams and jellies, which they then sell at the annual winter market. The proceeds are donated to a children’s hospice

In addition to preserving old nesting boxes, nesting places for swifts are integrated into the eves of the roofs over the new top storeys added to the historical Lindenhof apartment blocks. Since 2013, swarms of bees have been buzzing back and forth between the flat-roofed laundry building and the lime, acacia and robinia trees situated nearby. An organic bee-keeper gave children at the Lindenhof primary school their first taste of this particular form of urban farming and treated the grown-ups to a showing of More than Honey, a documentary film on the disappearance of bees. A residents’ working group began looking after the bees in 2014 and the hives benefit from the fact that the use of pesticides is prohibited on the estate.

Over the years, the yellow pond lily (Nuphar lutea) has proliferated in both the lake and the pond. The lilies are removed once every year from a section of the pond to ensure that the surface of the water stays clear. The banks of the two water bodies provide habitats for toads and also for the European pond turtles (Emys orbicularis), who climb up onto the water-lily leaves to bask in the warmth of the sun. And with the rich supply of food on offer, herons (Ardea cinerea) frequently visit the area and can be observed on the lake. The Lindenhof primary school uses the lakes during biology lessons to give children the opportunity to experience animals and plants.

WHERE TO FIND US

Geschäftsstelle der GeWoSüd

Eythstraße 45

12105 Berlin

Opening times: Monday to Friday – 9 am to 4 pm

Contact: Norbert Reinelt

Tel.:030-7544910

info(at)gewosued.de

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