Biodiversity cultures in urban and rural areas - integrative research to promote insect diversity in green spaces

The drastic decline in insect populations urgently requires sustainable measures to promote biodiversity. Even good technical and administrative catalogs of measures alone cannot solve the problem, rather a combination of knowledge, action plans and communication strategies within a communal process are needed. This is particularly evident in grassland: public, private and agricultural green spaces in the city (gardens, parks, green strips, green spaces on industrial sites) and in the countryside (meadows, pastures, field margins) represent an important habitat for arthropods, but are often underestimated. More than almost any other habitat, green spaces are used by large sections of the population and are subject to conflicting and competing, but also dynamic goals and ideas about design (including ornamental lawns or “weeds”, recreational value, animal production), which are often in conflict with the promotion of biodiversity.

The project BioDivKultur therefore aims to understand and improve practices for the promotion and appreciation of arthropod diversity based on a rural-urban gradient using the example of green spaces. Existing measures and practices are taken up or, where necessary, newly developed, implemented on a trial basis and then evaluated and communicated. This is done in an integrative way, which, takes into account not only the biological inventory of biodiversity on the various green spaces, but also the value- and knowledge-based, discursive-communicative and political-administrative contexts of these practices – that is, “biodiversity cultures”. Together with actors from the field, an investigation of previous measures and the development and application of new practices will be carried out. The comparison of urban and rural areas opens up new perspectives on social responsibility, different values and knowledge as well as concrete possibilities for action in terms of sustainable transformation.

To this end, the BioDivKultur project is made up of several sub-projects. In the scientific sub-project at TU Darmstadt, researchers from the fields of biology, linguistics, philosophy and political science provide reliable data on the topic. The sub-projects of the partners in the field are concerned with the sustainable communication of the topic to the various stakeholders. The sub-projects of the city of Darmstadt and the Landschaftspflegeverband Landkreis Göttingen e.V. are primarily aimed at professional stakeholder groups (for example, municipal green space maintenance or agricultural businesses) as well as the relevant education institutions. The sub-projects of the Bioversum Jagdschloss Kranichstein and the Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz (Landesverband Hessen) e.V. are primarily aimed at the general public and schools.

In the first phase of the project, measures for the conservation and promotion of arthropod diversity for various types of green spaces in the model city of Darmstadt have already been analyzed and classified. (Non-)established practices as well as divergent values and expectations of use were discussed intensively with the relevant stakeholder groups. In addition, a problem-oriented exchange took place throughout Germany, which allowed the project to form an initial network. This network represents an important potential of best practices to be analyzed, especially for the study of humanities and social sciences. As part of the biological studies, the current state of knowledge on the various mowing practices (timing, frequency, choice of equipment, mowing methods) was examined and gaps in knowledge identified.

In the second phase of the project, various approaches to promoting biodiversity in the three model cities (Darmstadt, Göttingen and Bamberg) are now being examined together with the partners in the field. The implementation and regulatory possibilities in the design and maintenance of green spaces as well as the understanding of nature and user interests will be examined in order to identify areas of conflict and existing hurdles in biodiversity conservation. Studies of numerous green spaces and different mowing devices (including insect-friendly mowers) will also provide insights into the influence of the mowing regime on the abundance and diversity of arthropods. The interdisciplinary results and data will then be communicated to the public, civil society initiatives, chambers of commerce and administrative institutions, with the aim of strengthening and entrenching biodiversity cultures. For this purpose, easy-access handouts, for example on minimum standards, incentive systems and communication strategies, are being developed to enable the sustainable promotion of species and, in particular, arthropod diversity in urban and rural areas.

Publications (content in German)

  • Stein, M., Sattlegger, L., & Freudenberg, J. (2023). Insektenfreundliches Gärtnern bei verschiedenen Typen von Gärtner*innen. Eine sozialwissenschaftliche und linguistische Analyse. ISOE-Materialien Soziale Ökologie, 73. (mit SLInBio)
  • Daum, S. N. K. (2023). Eine Praxis der (technischen) Fürsorge. Ästhetik und Biodiversitätsschutz. In M. Tamborini (Ed.), Die Ästhetik der Technowissenschaften des 21. Jahrhunderts. wbg Academic, Darmstadt: 229-247. (Zum Buch)
Project lead: Nico Blüthgen
Nico Blüthgen is a professor of ecology at the Technical University of Darmstadt. His research focuses on the ecology of insects and network analysis.

Technische Universität Darmstadt
Karolinenplatz 5
64289 Darmstadt

Das Projekt im Interview (content in German)

Interview mit Genevieve Walther: „Biodiversität als Wert und Nutzungsinteresse kommunikativ, politisch und praktisch stärker in der Grünflächengestaltung wirksam machen“

  Gärten, Parks und Grünstreifen stellen einen wichtigen Lebensraum für Insekten dar. Im Projekt BioDivKultur widmet sich ein interdisziplinäres Expertenteam Werthaltungen, Nutzungsinteressen und Handlungsoptionen bei der Gestaltung und Pflege dieser Grünflächen, um sie effektiver für den Erhalt der Artenvielfalt zu nutzen. Genevieve Walther, Ökologin und Koordinatorin im Verbundvorhaben BioDivKultur, berichtet über Neuigkeiten aus dem Projekt und die Zusammenarbeit des interdisziplinären Teams.

Zum Interview mit FONA. 

BioDivKultur – „Vielfältige Grünflächen sehen eben nicht so aus wie gepflegte Zierrasen“

Parks, Grünstreifen und gewerbliche Grünflächen können einer großen Anzahl von Insektenarten einen wichtigen Lebensraum bieten. Dabei spielen unterschiedliche Gestaltungsentscheidungen eine wichtige Rolle. Im Forschungsprojekt BioDivKultur wird untersucht, wie Biodiversität stärker in der Grünflächengestaltung beachtet werden kann. Professor Dr. Nico Blüthgen berichtet im Interview über Motivation und Ziele des interdisziplinären Projekts.

Zum Interview mit FONA.