BAU-R-1: Recreation areas

The picture shows a view of the English Garden in Munich. You can see large meadows criss-crossed by paths with individual groups of trees. In the background you can see the silhouette of Munich. Click to enlarge
Inner-city green spaces in Munich are islands of cold in the city during midsummer weather.
Source: Photograph: © Ernst August /

2019 Monitoring Report on the German Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change

Table of Contents


BAU-R-1: Recreation areas

In recent years, the provision of recreation areas in metropoles and in larger medium-sized towns has been declining. This may be associated with increases in population figures and  increasing population densities in urban areas. It is precisely the population of metropoles for whom it is essential to have sufficient areas which will maintain the urban climatic equilibrium thus maintaining high quality of life.

The line diagram shows the recreation and cemetery areas in square metres per inhabitant differentiated for cities with more than 500,000 inhabitants (metropolis), more than 100,000 to 500,000 inhabitants (large city) and more than 50,000 to 100,000 inhabitants (large medium-sized city) for the time series from 1996 to 2015.
BAU-R-1: Recreation areas

The line diagram shows the recreation and cemetery areas in square metres per inhabitant differentiated for cities with more than 500,000 inhabitants (metropolis), more than 100,000 to 500,000 inhabitants (large city) and more than 50,000 to 100,000 inhabitants (large medium-sized city) for the time series from 1996 to 2015. No trend analysis was carried out, but the series are increasing. The values increase most for the large medium-sized cities, least for the metropolises. The large cities lie in between.

Source: Länderinitiative Kernindikatoren (indicator C4 - recreation areas)

Urban green spaces – cooling oases

Exposure to thermal stress can cause health problems in the population and, in extreme cases, can increase mortality figures. Categories at risk are primarily older people, people with chronic illnesses, children and people who live in isolation. However, other population categories may also be affected if thermal stress becomes more frequent in future. For example, when temperatures at the workplace become excessive, employees may suffer from fatigue, impaired concentration and stress on the cardio-vascular system. In addition, potential consequences of high nocturnal temperatures can prevent or restrict the chances of people having a restful night.

It is expected that climate change will further intensify urban climate effects, potentially leading to an increased incidence of heat-related health problems. Measures can be taken at various levels to counteract or pre-empt such impacts from climate change. The appropriate design of urban spaces and residential areas can make important contributions to this effect, by ensuring – both in terms of quantity and quality – the provision of ‘green’ and ‘blue’ infrastructures, i.e. green spaces and water bodies.

Mostly green, predominantly unsealed terrain such as recreation areas dedicated to sports and games, park-like areas and campsites or even cemeteries fulfil important functions in localised micro-climates.

The positive impact of green spaces on the urban climate and air quality as well as noise abatement depends on the size, structure and composition of areas enhanced by vegetation. Compared to the built environment, even areas just covered in grass achieve positive changes in terms of radiative and heat regimes, provided there is ample provision of water. Shrubs and shade-giving high trees enhance the bioclimatic effects. Compared to the built environment, lower surface and air temperatures develop. In addition, green spaces containing trees have greater air humidity than sealed areas.

Municipalities bear particular responsibility for the climate in residential areas. They can create positive effects for instance by retaining extant green spaces, by networking them and by creating additional green spaces. Ideally green spaces should be connected by fresh-air corridors to areas such as meadows and fields in the rural environment where cold air is produced. This way, municipalities enhance the ecological functions of residential areas thereby increasing the area’s quality of life and housing quality.

In Germany’s larger towns with population sizes of more than 50,000, the public recreation area available to each inhabitant is inversely proportional to its size. The current provision of recreation areas in metropoles with population sizes of more than 500,000 is actually smallest. The larger medium-sized towns with population sizes between 50,000 and 100,000 currently enjoy, quantitatively speaking, the best provision of recreation areas available per inhabitant.

In contrast with the status quo for 2015 the calculation of which is based on Germany’s Amtliches Liegenschaftskatasterinformationssystem (ALKIS/Authoritative Real Estate Cadastre Information System) introduced in December 2015, the temporal development of the time series is difficult to interpret. Reasons for this are to be found in changes regarding the assignment and valuation of land adjusted when ALKIS was first introduced. This process has led to changes in land use statistics which are not based on actual changes of use. Especially in 2000 and 2008 some Federal States (Länder) carried out massive reassignments which have impacted on the data series. That notwithstanding, the data series for the years subsequent to 2011 show that the extent of provision of recreation areas in the metropoles and larger towns was ultimately in decline. One reason for this might be that the population size in those urban areas is increasing. For example, if the population density in inner cities increases without an increase in the provision of additional recreation areas, the inhabitants have on average less green space available to them. Especially in metropoles it is of vital importance to keep an eye on and control these developments in order to avoid that this growth does not occur at the expense of the urban climate thus affecting the local quality of life.



GE-I-1: Heat exposure and Public awareness

BAU-I-1: Heat stress in urban environments

BAU-I-3: Cooling degree days

RO-R-4: Priority and restricted areas for special climate functions



Mitigating climate-related increases in the heating effect in cities – as well as any associated heat stress – by means of suitable architecture as well as urbanand spatial planning; safeguarding fresh air supply by means of fresh-air corridors, especially in inner cities; inhibiting – with regard to urban development – any further sealing of open spaces by overbuilding with residential areas or traffic routes (DAS, ch. 3.2.1)

Keeping any areas or corridors free from obstructions to the creation and supply of the free flow of fresh air and/or cold air in the design of housing developments (DAS, ch. 3.2.14)

As a rule, public access to green spaces with multiple qualities and functions must be available in walking distance (NBS, ch. B 1.3.3)