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Enabling ecosystem services at the neighborhood scale while allowing for urban regrowth: the case of Halle, Germany

Dagmar Haase, Department of Geography, Humboldt-Universit├Ąt zu Berlin; Department of Computational Landscape Ecology, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ)
Manuel Wolff, Department of Geography, Humboldt-Universit├Ąt zu Berlin; Department of Urban and Environmental Sociology, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ)


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Cities that begin to regrow after a long period of decline and land abandonment are under pressure to provide comfortable housing conditions in preferred neighborhoods for their residents. On the other hand, these cities should preserve interim green spaces that result from decline because these spaces are a real treasure for densifying cities. Using the case of the city of Halle in post-socialist Eastern Germany, we explore four land use alternatives for neighborhood development close to what might happen: (1) urban densification, (2) spacious housing, (3) the green city, and (4) the edible city. We seek to discover opportunities for regrowth and sustainable land use development by applying the ecosystem services and green points frameworks to a set of land use transition rules. Land use change has been defined for strategic development areas according to the Master Plan and complementary visions of land change. The results of the study provide highly interesting insights into how both regrowth and greening can be enabled in densifying neighborhoods and what types of green are most effective in providing carbon storage and summer heat regulation. Moreover, gardens, as central elements of the edible city concept, were found to be flexible in implementation in very differently dynamic neighborhoods by providing multi-functional spaces for ecosystem services such as climate regulation, local food production, daily recreation, and nature experience. Results demonstrate that ecosystem services benefit flows increase only in districts where real estate pressure is low. In districts with growing population numbers, green spaces are reduced. This may result in increased injustice in green space availability seeing as we have modeled a recreational space per capita of < 9 m² in the Southern Suburb, whereas an increase to almost 70 m² was simulated in the shrinking, prefabricated Newtown. Most importantly, modeling the narratives of the Master Plan in a spatially explicit way demonstrates unused potential for greening in Halle. Thus, we conclude that urban planning should make regular use of such land use alternative to look for hidden combined visions of green and growth in a formerly shrinking city.

Key words

ecosystem services; green infrastructure; Halle; land use alternatives; urban regrowth

Copyright © 2022 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087