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Shining example of species protection

  • Austria
  • 11.3.2024

3 March was "World Wildlife Day" (UN World Wildlife Day). This was introduced in 1973 as part of the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). This agreement protects endangered wild species (animals and plants).
CITES primarily protects endangered species from trade and regulates their keeping and breeding. However, the intention of protecting endangered animals and plants from extinction can also be supported on a small scale in your own garden.

Contribution of the allotment gardeners

Some wild animals seek refuge in allotment gardens because they are driven out of their traditional habitats by agriculture and building activities.
By creating diverse habitats, we as allotment garden families can protect these displaced species and contribute to the preservation of biodiversity.
We leave leaves and brushwood piles for hedgehogs. Native shrubs and natural hedges are important retreats and food sources for birds and should be used instead of thujas and cherry laurel. Fortunately, these and other nature-orientated recommendations are already frequently implemented.
In this article, we want to focus on a small insect that is an endangered species. Allotment gardeners can contribute to its conservation by providing a variety of habitats and by gardening in a natural way.

Shining example

Exactly! Fireflies are a rare but all the more popular guest in your own garden.
In the case of the "small fireflies" (common firefly), the flying male puts on a light show in summer. If, on the other hand, you discover a fixed light shining on the ground, this is the female of the "large firefly" trying to attract a mate.
Fireflies are not only beautiful to look at in the garden, they are also important beneficial insects. The larvae prefer to eat slugs and snails, which they kill with their venomous bites.

The example of the firefly shows how important the diversity of habitats in the garden is.
Their original habitat is forest edges, bushes, damp meadows and gardens. In the course of its perennial development, the firefly needs different habitats.
These include warm sunny and moist shady spots, shrubs for a better view when searching for a mate, as well as piles of branches and dry stone walls for shelter. A flower or herb meadow would be ideal for the fireflies. But at least in one part of the garden, you should provide a wild corner.
Females are particularly well attracted by the heat generated by piles of cuttings left lying around. However, you should never try to "relocate" fireflies from their home territory yourself.
The greatest danger to the firefly is the use of slug pellets and other synthetic pesticides. Mineral fertilisers should also be replaced with compost and organic fertilisers. Light pollution is also an ever-increasing danger for the luminous beneficial insects. The larvae become less active due to light and their successful search for mates is severely disrupted. Artificial lighting should therefore be minimised as far as possible. Necessary light sources should only shine directly onto the ground. Motion detectors can be used to reduce the duration of lighting.

Supporting natural species diversity
Even if we have limited ourselves to the firefly today, many endangered species naturally benefit from the diversity of habitats in your own garden. For example, herb snails with dry stone walls are an ideal retreat for lizard species and a sandarium is the ideal nesting place for endangered wild bees.


Not only animals but also plants are protected by the species protection agreement. In the interests of biodiversity, allotment gardeners can contribute to the continued existence of rare species through the diversity of varieties of herbs, fruit, vegetables and other plants. Swap your "treasures" with your neighbours or visit one of the rarities exchanges to achieve this diversity. In this way, species beyond the mass assortment from the DIY and garden centres are preserved and in turn provide animals with food and alternative habitats.

The UN World Wildlife Day is not just a declaration of intent by the United Nations. We allotment gardeners can support endangered wild species by gardening close to nature and providing a diverse range of habitats in our own "little green space".

We recommend the "VERSATILE GREEN SPACES" guidelines from the SYM:BIO project as support for implementation.

The magic of the allotment garden - 26th Allotment Garden Prize of Vienna

  • Austria
  • 3.11.2023

On 21 October, around 500 invited guests gathered in the large ballroom of Vienna City Hall for the 26th Allotment Garden Award Ceremony of the City of Vienna. The allotment garden family had been invited in advance to send in entries for the creative competition with this year's motto "The magic in the allotment garden". The jury anonymously assessed the 179 entries in four categories and awarded the prizes. The award winners were duly celebrated in the festive setting of the gala event.

Welcome to the 26th Allotment Garden Prize of the City of Vienna

The evening was hosted by the well-known Radio Wien presenter Alex Jokel. After a musical intro, the numerous guests of honour were welcomed. This time, they included several district heads who wanted to personally congratulate the award winners from their districts. Kathrin Gaál, Deputy Mayor and City Councillor for Housing, Housing Construction, Urban Renewal and Women, welcomed those present and emphasised the importance of allotment gardeners for the city.

Representing the allotment gardeners, an interview followed with the president of the central federation of allotment gardeners and settlers of Austria, Ing. Wilhelm Wohatschek and the president of the regional federation of Vienna, Helmut Bayer. Both spoke about the current challenges of the allotment garden movement and thanked the guests and organisers.

The award ceremony was hosted by Gerhard Spitzer, Member of Parliament and local councillor. He has not only been chairman of the Viennese allotment garden advisory board since 2012, but was also a member of the jury that evaluated the prizes submitted.

The 2023 award winners

This year, the jury awarded a joint children's prize, three children's prizes for children up to the age of 14 and three children's prizes for children up to the age of 6, as well as the three main prizes.



Supporting programme

After the award ceremony, the extensive buffet was opened with culinary delicacies from the Vienna City Hall cellar. The prizewinners works could be admired up close at the Nordbuffet. The liquid delicacies from the ladies of the Floridsdorf district organisation's women's group were particularly popular. Their home-made liqueurs and schnapps were very popular and invited visitors to linger. The creative and elaborate gourmet decorations from the Viennese nurseries are particularly noteworthy this year. After the event, guests were free to help themselves to these. This year, not only delicacies but also works of art could be taken home. On the one hand, a photo wall invited guests to have their personal memories taken, and on the other hand, the quick-drawing artist and caricaturist Ray van Stift was very well attended this year.

The evening was musically enriched by the Zuckerwatte Combo with a rousing pop revue from the 50s and 60s. Young and old sang and danced in front of the stage until the evening drew to a close at around 9 pm. In keeping with the music programme, there was also a candyfloss stand in the north buffet for young and old.

We would like to thank all guests and organisers for the successful evening and hope to see you again next year for the 27th allotment garden award ceremony.

Climate-friendly gardens are in vogue

  • Austria
  • 15.9.2023

It is becoming more and more apparent that not only sustainability and biodiversity are in demand in our gardens, but also that the advancing climate change must be taken into account, especially when it comes to planting. There is still enough water in Austria, but we are already seeing problems in agriculture.

The following tips are general recommendations that will become particularly relevant in relation to the approaching climate change. You should try to see the connections in the natural cycle when working in the garden, because then you will be flexible enough to take on new challenges.

In order for your plants to grow healthily, species-appropriate light requirements and soil conditions are basic prerequisites to be prepared for climatic stress. This reads well, but especially in the beginning extreme situations you should pay attention to the fact that it can also become more "Mediterranean" in the choice of plants, but above all that you pay attention to what still looks healthy in the gardens and in the nature of your surroundings and get one or the other plant into the garden.

Here are some more tips for your garden:

• Extremely dry summers cause stress in many plants, often resulting in stalled growth. Symptoms can be: Flower buds do not blossom, fruits are dropped before ripening, premature death of perennials. Plants can cope better with drought stress if they are watered sufficiently at longer intervals. The formation of deep roots is promoted by less frequent watering. In practice, extensive watering at longer intervals is better than distributing a little water in the garden every day.

• During wind and heavy rain, soil that is not overgrown erodes and silts up. To protect it, either vegetation or another protective layer must be applied. The best protection is provided by a plant cover (ground-covering plants, green manure). Where vegetation is temporarily not possible (e.g. vegetable garden, summer flower bed), the soil can be covered with mulch (e.g. leaves, grass cuttings, wood chippings, bark material).

• Planting deciduous trees in our gardens is a big trend. Trees provide shade and evaporative cooling in summer, and in winter they let light into the house. They bind CO², slow down the wind, produce oxygen and act as an effective fine dust filter. Deciduous trees are irreplaceable for a pleasant living space in the future.

• How we deal with our water will also be more important in the future. For this reason, there has been a recommendation for some time to collect rainwater from roofs and use it for watering the garden. The water can also be used for a wetland biotope or you can simply let it seep into the garden where you want it. Sealing of surfaces, such as paths, eaves or terraces, should be largely avoided. In principle, watering should be geared to the needs of the plants. Plants have different needs for irrigation water, so it is better to supply the garden areas individually than to wet everything evenly.

• And finally, it is also about "weed control", which should be carried out extremely selectively. Nowadays, wild plants can be tolerated and included in the design of the garden, a new garden wave is emerging. An area overgrown with wild herbs is in any case preferable to one without - it is not only valuable for the soil, but also for the insect world.

You may have noticed it, there is a trend back to the natural garden, to a garden with shrubs, with beds full of flowers and vegetables, where at least one tree provides shade and not just a measly awning, a garden full of plants that not only survive a longer time without intensive care, but also look good.

Fritz Hauk, Vice-President of the Central Federation of Austrian Allotment Gardeners

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