Near-natural gardening

Near-natural gardening
Near-natural gardens ideally offer a large number of structures and biotopes for a wide range of species of flora and fauna. © CIPRA International

Involved sectors

Local population/citizens, Municipalities

Affected habitats

Areas for settlements and transport

Description

Near-natural gardens with large quantities of robust indigenous trees and shrubs, herbs and other plants are an asset for built-up areas that can also contribute to the creation of biotope networks. Near-natural gardens ideally offer a large number of structures and biotopes for a wide range of species of flora and fauna. Dry stone walls, piles of stones and twigs, deadwood, fruit trees and ponds all play an important role as living spaces, refuges, sources of food, and hunting and nesting grounds. In the near-natural garden, the compost used as fertiliser completes the natural cycle. Synthetic products such as pesticides, herbicides and mineral fertilisers are superfluous.

Impact

Impact in particular on Small mammals, Reptiles, Amphibians, Birds, Insects
Ecological impact  
Improvement or preservation of habitats Near-natural design enhances the garden’s suitability as a biotope for various small mammals, amphibians, reptiles and insects.
Element of ecological network In combination with other near-natural spaces, near-natural gardens can form part of a local biotope network.
Time of realisation for measure Immediate, Weeks: Depending on the timing of the measures, the effects can be seen in the current vegetation period already.
Impact scope Very localised (plot), Local (municipality): Individual near-natural spaces can form part of a local biotope network.

Implementation

Implementation period Days, Weeks: Some measures can be implemented immediately(replacement with indigenous species, discontinued use of artificial fertilisers) whereas others take more time and effort (building a dry-stone wall or creating a pond).
Frequency Non-recurring, Recurring: Depending on the specific solutions selected, one-off or repeated activities may be required.

Economic and legal aspects

Costs Very low (less than 1'000 EUR): Most measures can be implemented at little expense and may even save money.
Socio-economic impacts No direct impact: Depending on the plants chosen for the near-natural garden, some can be used in the kitchen.
Sources of financing Private sponsor, Public: local, Public: regional

Further information

Evaluation A number of programmes have been launched in support of near-natural gardens, but there is rarely any higher-level planning for a biotope network.
Information Austria: Austrian programme entitled "Natur im Garten": http://www.gemeinden.umweltberatung.at/start.asp?b=3608
Germany: Tips for laying out a near-natural garden available from Naturschutzbund Deutschland: http://hamburg.nabu.de/projekte/garten/gartentipps/05213.html

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