These German cities are particularly green

If you don’t have a garden as a city dweller, you need to go to the nearest park for a walk, a picnic, and an after-work beer. A new study shows which regions are the fastest to get out of the office and into the countryside.

Whether it’s a flower paradise or a pebble desert: around 50 percent of households in Germany have their own garden at home. But even in the republic of one and two-family houses, millions of people have to get by without private green space.

Public parks and green spaces are therefore particularly important in conurbations and large cities. How long it takes to get to the next meadow depends entirely on the region.

For the first time, scientists have now assessed where the quality of life in terms of local recreation is greatest. The study from the Institute of German Economics (IW), available exclusively in advance on t-online, analyzes how easy it is to actually get to parks and green islands in German metropolitan regions. At the top of the table is an area where many still think of dirt, gray and soot: the Ruhr area.

The metropolitan region around Essen, Duisburg, Dortmund, Bochum and Oberhausen ranks second in terms of proximity to green spaces and residential areas, as well as distance between parks and offices, and has the best overall performance.

Green life and work

The IW calculated rankings using land cover and land use data, company locations, employment data and virtual maps of cities. Based on the much-invoked “work-life balance”, the study describes the new indices as “life-green balance” and “work-green balance”.

These show that in Hamburg, in the Rhine-Main and Frankfurt regions and in the Rhine-Neckar area, you soon have grass under your feet. Different in and around Berlin.

Gray, more gray, Berlin

On average, people in the Berlin-Brandenburg metropolitan region have to travel the longest distances before they see more than a few trees on the side of the road; often more than six minutes by bike In Berlin itself, more than a quarter of the population does not have access to green spaces on foot.

Cloudy weather in Berlin: Although 12% of Berlin's areas are green, parks and lawns are very unevenly distributed in the capital.  (Source: images imago / bildgehege)Cloudy weather in Berlin: Although 12% of Berlin’s areas are green, parks and lawns are very unevenly distributed in the capital. (Source: bildgehege images / imago)

Although the capital has many parks in terms of area, they are very unevenly distributed. The main reason for this is the dense development of the city of 3.7 million. Green spaces are therefore mainly found on the outskirts of Berlin. In the victorious metropolitan region of the Ruhr, the situation is reversed.

Unlike Berlin-Brandenburg, which has only one large city, the Ruhr area has several centers which are not as densely built and also allow for a better distribution of green spaces in urban centers. According to the IW, this is not only important for social justice, it has also long been a decisive criterion for the economy.

Advantage of the position for companies

“The speed with which the green areas can be reached is a very important location factor in the competition for qualified specialists,” says Hanno Kempermann, head of the firm and managing director of IW Consult. He therefore advises city administrations in urban agglomerations to strive for a green image, also for economic reasons. From his point of view, this is possible despite the trend towards ever-increasing demographics.

“Urban centers are likely to change dramatically in the next few years. The possible shift away from the culture of presence in many companies can reduce the need for new office space, autonomous driving risks reducing the consumption of parking space and aisles, and increasing commerce. online will change the demand for retail space, “says Kemperman.

The head of IW Consult points out that this area potential needs to be identified at an early stage so that it can be used in an attractive way. Ideal for green spaces.

Good remedy for heat waves

In addition to business reasons, the progress of the climate crisis also speaks in favor of a strategic struggle for more lawns, parks and avenues. Germany is already one of the countries where particularly large numbers of people die during heatwaves in the summer.

On the one hand, this is due to the lack of protective measures and insufficient information for the population. But the fault is also the increasingly dense development and the construction of corridors for fresh air, as temperatures increase further in urban centers: during the day the heat cannot escape and at night there is hardly any cooling: stone and cement provide the accumulated heat of the day and then return to the environment.

Glass, concrete and stone are lined up on Stuttgart's Schlossplatz, and there is a large lawn in the center of the square: the balance between population centers and green spaces is particularly important in urban centers due to the increase in temperatures caused by climate change. .  (Source: imago images)Glass, concrete and stone are lined up on Stuttgart’s Schlossplatz, and there is a large lawn in the center of the square: the balance between population centers and green spaces is particularly important in urban centers due to the increase in temperatures caused by climate change. . (Source: imago images)

“Single huge green areas lead to reductions in temperature in their immediate vicinity, but not in the entire city area. For uniform relief, green areas are needed across the board,” agrees Hanno Kempermann. The study he and his team are now publishing could help cities better identify areas that heat up significantly in summer due to a lack of green space.

In the medium term, new open spaces could be used to counter the risk of heat there. Some cities in Germany have already taken up the case. Including the taillight of the Berlin green space. When you visit the capital, you don’t notice much.

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