Private gardens as an important contribution to biodiversity

Garden owners have it good. Someone who can call a piece of land his or her own is privileged, can set up home there and do as he or she pleases. However, anyone who owns land, no matter how small, also bears responsibility. For the diversity of nature and the preservation of species.

April 2023

Illustration by Márton Zsoldos, referring to a three-part landscape illustration from 1972 by the University of Göttingen.

The total area of Austria's private gardens is about 1.850 km2 , which is about half the size of the province of Burgenland. This amounts to 2.2 percent of the country's area. So it is rather manageable - and yet an important factor when it comes to biodiversity. Every little piece of nature counts, even balconies are relevant. And now, in spring, a lot can be done!

Climate change, intensive agriculture, soil sealing and environmental destruction have caused many animals, insects and plants to disappear worldwide. One million species are threatened, as was announced at COP15, the UN Biodiversity Conference last December. In Austria, too, this trend is a sad reality: one third of all species are threatened or already extinct; in the case of wild bees, we are even talking about 50 percent. The UN demands the protection of 30 percent of the ocean and land surface, more money for environmental protection and less pesticide use to stop the loss of biodiversity.

We as individuals often feel powerless and completely overlook the fact that we are not powerless. We can influence things through our shopping behaviour, for example by buying rarer local fruit and vegetable varieties at markets. Or by planting and maintaining our gardens ecologically. Because in total, 1,850 square kilometres are not nothing! The illustration below shows how it works: the more plant richness - from native flowers, plants, shrubs and trees as well as native fruit and vegetables - the more living organisms settle in the soil, on the ground, in the woods, walls and in the air. The care? Pesticide-free, mechanical (if possible only superficially so as not to disturb and injure the soil organisms and earthworms) and reduced lawn mowing.

A whole range of measures for a healthy flowering garden can be read → here. They have the positive side effect of reducing work and increasing leisure. For a good book under the apple tree, under which, by the way, it is a few degrees cooler than under the parasol in hot weather. The → diversity of the much-maligned nettle, an important herb not only for many butterfly species, is also exciting.

If you only have a balcony, you can also plant bee- and insect-friendly plants there. What applies on a large scale also applies on a small scale. Because every flower counts!

Here's to many naturally beautiful gardens and balconies!