Foundation of a Competence Network for Urban Ecology

At an expert workshop on April 22nd, 2005 in Berlin representatives of universities, universities of applied sciences, research institutes, and federal states environmental agencies discussed about the foundation of a German competence network for urban ecology.

The background: in May 2004 in Jena at a common meeting of the two working groups - the working group "urban ecology" of the Ecological Society of Germany, Austria and Switzerland and the federal state working group "biotope mapping in populated areas" - there was suggested to stimulate an expert discussion and to develop suggestions into further work about the broader prospect of these two groups. At the preparation of the expert discussion the idea arose that these two working groups have prospects only, if the urban ecological research in Germany gets a definite frame and new impulses. From this the idea has arisen to build up a competence network for urban ecology.

The possible aims and tasks of the network were outlined in a position paper prepared to the expert workshop on April 22nd, 2005. General aim of the competence network shall be to make the urban ecological research in Germany at the national level to an essential and innovative research field in the ecological research landscape and to keep or to look for the connection to the top research at the international level. Among other things following tasks of the network being named:

  • developing prospects and questions to urban ecological research and promoting common and integrated research;
  • collecting and evaluating results of urban ecological researches and organizing the exchange about this;
  • establishing a stable core for the two working groups "urban ecology" and "biotope mapping in populated areas";
  • becoming the point of reference for the scientific and extra-scientific exchange (researchers of most different science disciplines, politics, administration, research funding etc.);
  • connection to the international urban ecological research as well as the care of cooperation on international networks.

Three thematic approaches which should be in the centre of the work of the network were suggested at the workshop, and but: a) biodiversity and urban areas, b) urban habitats, and c) urban ecological systems. Beyond this a far-reaching agreement consisted that socially relevant questions - for example sustainable urban development, urban reorganization and shrinking cities - have to be picked up, that an application-oriented and practical urban ecological research will be supported by the network, and that people in urban areas are an essential reference point. There was a further agreement about this that the competence network is arranged openly and that available structures will be not replaced but been of use.

In conclusion some decisions were reached to the work and time planning. As managing director of the competence network Peter Werner, Institute for Housing and Environment (Darmstadt), has been determined and Prof. em. Dr. Dr. h.c. Herbert Sukopp (Berlin) has been declared as an honorary chairman.

On October 21st, 2005 in the UFZ -Centre for Environmental Research Leipzig-Halle the next expert workshop will take place to fix the further activities. A suggestion on a working platform for the network will be worked out by Prof. Dr. Ulrike Weiland (UFZ) and Peter Werner up to this workshop. An essential point of reference for the network is the planning of an international conference to the topic "urban biodiversity and design" in the year 2008. Prof. Dr. Norbert Müller of the University of Applied Sciences Erfurt has activated this conference and takes on the responsibility for the organization. Last but not least Prof. Dr. Willfried Nobel of the Business Economics Environment University, Nuertingen - Geislingen will work out suggestions on public relations and media work.

Materials (in german):
Discussion paper part 1
Discussion paper part 2
Introducing statements from the workshop



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