Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems


Groundwater is not only crucial to human survival. Many ecosystems depend on groundwater, too. This includes biotopes, such as lower bogs or wet meadows, which need to be in contact with groundwater to develop. Surface waters, such as rivers and lakes, are also dependent on the groundwater table – their banks form important habitats for plants and animals.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Berlin had to contend with a drop in groundwater levels. Due to reduced water consumption in households, trade and industry, the groundwater levels rose again in the 1990s. At present, the groundwater levels fluctuate depending on, for example, different amounts of rain and raw water extraction. The pumping waterworks are often located within sensitive ecosystems. The European Water Framework Directive came into force in 2000 in order to protect these ecosystems. It stipulates that river areas should be mapped comprehensively in a first step. In areas with planned drops in groundwater levels, the environmental impact must then be assessed for the areas in question. The maps were developed referring to data on valuable areas for flora and fauna, vegetation maps and data on the depth to groundwater.

The map “Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems” illustrates that the tree populations in the Großer Tiergarten and the Schlosspark Charlottenburg are dependent on groundwater, as are the forests on the outskirts of the city. Discover other affected biotopes on the following pages.