"All united for more biodiversity" is a charter to manage green spaces in Strasbourg, France in an eco-friendly way.
The All united for more biodiversity charter, launched in 2012, is based on sustainable development and a participatory approach. The charter brings together 75 signatories from both professional and community organisations who commit to supporting biodiversity.
Since then the city government has worked steadily on improving its environmental impact, and on promoting biodiversity through their forests and woods, parkland and nursery gardens, both in the city centre and on the outskirts.
Through the charter, all stakeholders are given the opportunity to work together, thus strengthening an eco-friendly network and multiplying its impact on the city.
This project was awarded the 'URBACT Good Practice Label' in 2017. Learn more about the award.
Background and objectives
In 2008, the City and Urban Community of Strasbourg began an irreversible program involving a blanket ban on the use of pesticides in the city's public spaces. This was an important step forward in the effort to improve the city's quality of life and was designed to help protect public health, preserve water resources from pollution and prevent damage to groundwater.
In 2012 the All United for more diversity charter was adopted by the city government including the following objectives:
- Continue the ban on the use of pesticides, which can be harmful to soil flora and fauna (especially earthworms and microorganisms). Soil with a thriving microorganism population encourages plant growth and provides better resistance against drought, excessive rainfall, disease and parasites.
- A return to planting local plants when possible. Plants that have adapted to the soil and climate of the region need less watering and are better equipped to resist disease.
- Increased use of hardy, perennial plants which need less water. Annual plants often require much more care and their use is being limited.
- The introduction of beehives and orchards into the city, thereby highlighting the nutritive value of urban gardens and the essential roles of bees in pollinating fruit trees
- The creation of natural and flowered meadows to encourage the return of a richer fauna, and melliferous fields to encourage the work of bees.
Organisations participating in the project choose between six actions that are listed by categories. For example, “preserving the environment” equates to abandoning the use of pesticides, “save energy and resources” means reducing watering or light pollution, “planting for biodiversity” is implementing local species and meadows for bees, and “protect and develop the ecosystem” includes installation of biodiversity shelters and green walls and/or roofs.
One of the main measures of the charter has been the abandonment of pesticides in the management of green spaces of the following types::
- Flowered areas (plant containers, window boxes, hanging baskets),
- Horticultural green spaces (traditional gardens and parks, the areas around monuments, public buildings and churches, etc.),
- Urban green spaces forming district centres (busy squares),
- Interdistrict urban green spaces (promenades, riverbanks, etc),
- Extended green spaces (natural spaces or meadowland),
- Ecological natural spaces (conservation of flora and fauna).
In return for their commitment to the charter, signatories (companies, associations, local authorities, donors, etc.) benefit from technical support. The Eurométropole offers technical advice, training, conferences and educational tools to raise the awareness of stakeholders.
Financing and resources
Institution in charge of implementation: Eurométropole de Strasbourg
Associated Community Services: Environment and Energy Transition Service
Budget: € 30,000 / year
Financial partners: Rhine-Meuse Water Agency
Technical partners: Rhine-Meuse Water Agency, Alsace Nature, LPO, My tree garden, My nature garden
Results and impacts
Upon its creation in 2012, the Charter was signed by 23 stakeholders, by 2017 the charter counts 75 signatories. While 89% of organisations used pesticides when signing the charter, 84% of the signatories pledged to plant local species, whether meadows, natural hedges or fruit trees.
Mondelez International (Suchard factory) signed the charter in 2012. The company wanted to involve employees in the choice of actions to undertake. Among the first decisions were the ban of pesticides, a fauna/flora diagnosis, and the implementation of 19 beehives. Many other projects followed including a shared garden and the installation of 16 nest boxes (both specialised and unspecialised). Additionally, there are future projects planned: shared composting, the implementation of a school orchard and fruit trees, and the creation of a pond.
Barriers and challenges
Initially, gaining support for the charter was not easy, biodiversity protection was not high on the agenda of local companies producing shoes or chocolate and it was difficult to convince them to sign the charter. However most companies appreciated the opportunity to involve their employees in team building activities and from this perspective, tree planting, nest building or bee keeping were attractive proposals. Today 88% of signatories involve their staff in biodiversity-related activities which in turn contributes to more people becoming aware of nature-friendly management practices.
Lessons learned and transferability
This project is unique because it involves citizens, government agencies, community and private sector organizations. This project can be implemented in other cities who aim to increase biodiversity and make their city more sustainable.
- URBACT article: From nature lovers to nature activists http://urbact.eu/nature-lovers-nature-activists