Background, Vision and Challenges

The ‘Good Ecological Potential’ is an ecologic development objective of the European Water Framework Directive for artificial and heavily modified water bodies which turned out to be insufficient and does not consider the high demand of ecosystem services in urban areas. It is necessary to completely evaluate the ecologic potential in urban areas and work out a basic concept. Therefore people and their access to waterbodies, their options to experience them and the biodiversity of waterbodies becomes the centre of interest.

Aim of the interdisciplinary research network

In Berlin, a nationally and internationally visible network for interdisciplinary research on biodiversity and the management of urban waters we want to create. Existing research potentials can be brought together and coordinated in such a way as to exploit synergies and, in addition, to jointly develop promising applications for project funding. The international competitiveness in science and application should be strengthened and the interdisciplinary research network on the ecological potential of urban waters should be consolidated. Innovative concepts for the management of urban waters and their aquatic communities – as novel ecosystems due to human activity – are to be developed.

We want to stimulate research on ecological functions and ecosystem services of urban waters and their impact on the catchment area, thus creating synergies between business-related projects - e.g. in the area of ​​mixed water management and water revitalization in Berlin.

Our research questions

  • Which concepts and visions exist for ecological goals and mission statements?
  • Where are examples of successful restoration projects in urban waters?
  • Which principles and examples are available for adaptive management strategies and implementations?
  • What do we know about restoration of waterbodies and banks?
  • Which sociological studies dealing with waterbodies and restoration projects are available?
  • What know-how and research is urgently lacking?
  • How can we create more synergies between stakeholders?

Waters should be fun!

Everyone wants a city where the numerous waterbodies are full of live and dainty clean, swimming is a lot of fun and we can enjoy the drinking water.

In order to achieve this goal, a lot of research is already being done and a lot of money has been invested. Nevertheless, there is still a long way to go before all challenges are constructively accepted and managed. Here you will find the most important research challenges for vivant waters in urban areas.

Open research questions:

  • When and where there is a demand for ecosystem functions and services?
  • Where and for which activities people come to the water?
  • How can people actively participate in the exploration of Berlin's waterbodies?
  • Which waterbodies are used no longer or just a little?
  • Where can we create new access to the water and unblock the shores?
  • Where can we develop new baths and/or revitalize old ones?
  • Where and how can we better experience waterbodies and their wildlife in berlin?
  • Where are infrastructures missing e.g. for paddlers, nature watchers or fishermen?
  • Which revitalization or management actions have proven to be efficient and effective for urban waterbodies?
  • Which water routes are not yet traversable for fish?
  • Where is space for floating islands, new reed areas and other structures to bring more nature to Berlin?

Recent quotes

The interdisciplinary research network is funded by the Senate Department for Economics, Technology and Research.

The coalition will ensure that there is a public access to fresh air, less noise, clean water, open spaces, parks, rivers and lakes in the growing city… The shores of Berlin's waterbodies should be open to the public in principle…The water and shore areas should be designed as close to nature as possible…The coalition will tackle Berlin's key water challenges and implement the Water Framework Directive as soon as possible for all rivers. We will enable swimming in the river Spree.
Coalition agreement 2016„Langsam entsteht ein Bewusstsein dafür, dass Metropolen eine besondere Verantwortung beim ökologischen Stadtumbau haben. Berlin hätte das Potenzial ein ökologischer Aktivposten, ja sogar ein Vorreiter zu sein."

„Slowly the awareness arises that metropolises have a special responsibility in ecological urban redevelopment. Berlin has the potential to be an ecological asset, even a pioneer.“

„The citizens of Berlin want to experience and enjoy their river! They demand more public accessibility of the river and its shores. Also the water-oriented recreation should be possible in the city center.“
(Berliner Stadtgespräch)