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Urban Foraging in Berlin: People, Plants and Practices within the Metropolitan Green Infrastructure

Author

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  • Jonah L. Landor-Yamagata

    () (Department of Ecology, Ecosystem Science/Plant Ecology, Technische Universität Berlin, Rothenburgstr. 12, D-12165 Berlin, Germany)

  • Ingo Kowarik

    () (Department of Ecology, Ecosystem Science/Plant Ecology, Technische Universität Berlin, Rothenburgstr. 12, D-12165 Berlin, Germany
    Berlin-Brandenburg Institute of Advanced Biodiversity Research (BBIB), D-14195 Berlin, Germany)

  • Leonie K. Fischer

    () (Department of Ecology, Ecosystem Science/Plant Ecology, Technische Universität Berlin, Rothenburgstr. 12, D-12165 Berlin, Germany
    Berlin-Brandenburg Institute of Advanced Biodiversity Research (BBIB), D-14195 Berlin, Germany)

Abstract

Gathering wild plants in cities (urban foraging) is likely an important, but understudied human-nature interaction globally. As large European cities are critically understudied in this regard, we performed in-depth ethnography-based interviews in Berlin, Germany, to shed light on the cultural background of foragers, their motivations and which plants and fungi are gathered for which purposes. Results demonstrate multiple uses of 125 taxa, mostly frequently-occurring species but also some Red List species, from a range of formal and informal greenspace types. Both native and non-native species were gathered, with significant differences in use patterns. Use for food was most common, followed by medicinal uses, and personal enjoyment was a frequent motivation, indicating that urban foraging combines provisioning and cultural ecosystem services. Familial and childhood foraging exposure were common, pointing to influences of early-in-life exposure on later-in-life activities and transgenerational aspects of the practice. Results further suggest legacy effects from the post-war and communist eras on foraging knowledge. Although non-commercial foraging is allowed in Berlin, over-harvesting was not evident. Interviews indicate that stewardship of urban biodiversity is common among foragers. Results thus suggest considering urban foraging as a promising vehicle for linking humans with nature when developing a biodiverse urban green infrastructure.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonah L. Landor-Yamagata & Ingo Kowarik & Leonie K. Fischer, 2018. "Urban Foraging in Berlin: People, Plants and Practices within the Metropolitan Green Infrastructure," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(6), pages 1-23, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:10:y:2018:i:6:p:1873-:d:150608
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:eee:ecoser:v:12:y:2015:i:c:p:187-199 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:eee:ecoser:v:31:y:2018:i:pc:p:455-467 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:10:p:1884-:d:115708 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Bolund, Per & Hunhammar, Sven, 1999. "Ecosystem services in urban areas," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 293-301, May.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    biocultural diversity; edible weeds; endangered plant species; gathering activity; provisioning ecosystem services; urban biodiversity; urban collecting; urban greenspace; urban NTFPs; wild food;

    JEL classification:

    • Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products

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