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People’s Petition to “Keep the City Green”

Preserve the lungs of the city!

Green spaces are the “lungs of the city” – and urgency is required to save and maintain them in the face of ongoing global warming, heatwaves and extreme drought conditions. In addition, these green spaces are increasingly sacrificed for the profit of investors or to address the housing shortage – at the cost of our environment, climate and the quality of urban life. This is why we campaigned in Munich in particular for de-sealing and the retention of green spaces and woodland areas: ultimately succeeding with the People’s Petition “Keep the City Green”.

Urban green spaces are important for a host of different reasons:

  • Cities are increasingly heating up and therefore more reliant on green spaces. Public greens and outdoor leisure parks have an important cooling effect – with trees and plants offsetting the heat of urban concrete by reducing temperatures and providing shade.
  • Green spaces safeguard the groundwater and improve air quality. They also serve as important fresh-air zones.
  • Urban green spaces are also important for biodiversity, providing habitat options and safe havens for birds and animals.
  • Last but not least, green spaces are also important for all the human residents of the city. They increase quality of life and offer space for children to play, sporting activity and social gatherings. They help improve the mental health of a community and prevent mental illness.

Yet urban green spaces are still being sealed off. Munich is the most heavily-sealed metropolis in Germany and, of 79 major German cities, is ranked as low as 74 in terms of green-space area. The People’s Petition was designed to redress this trend and retain the important green spaces in Munich.

The “Keep the City Green” petition was launched in 2016 as an urban precinct initiative and in summer 2022 collected the required number of signatures for a local referendum. Protect the Planet was one of the supporting groups behind this petition.

The referendum sought long-term retention of the green spaces and parks that were only designated as “general green areas” within the city’s land-use plan, plus all of the public green spaces that form part of the urban-green charter. Yet there are about 800 outdoor leisure parks of various sizes within the overall urban region.t. The smallest green space in the urban-green charter is in Allach-Untermenzing and is 62 m² in size, while the largest is the Riemer Park with an area of 1,231,985 m².

A total of 59,391 signatures were collected by the initiators of the petition, led by Stefan Hofmeir, including 1000 signatures collected in Munich by Protect the Planet, which was a significant contribution to the total.

In February 2023 the People’s Petition was accepted by the City Council against the declared will of the Lord Mayor of Munich. Immediately afterwards, the Black-Red government in Munich wanted to exclude any current plans from the initiative. But the government of Upper Bavaria declared that to be unlawful, ordering a new referendum to be held. Eventually the People’s Petition was accepted with no limitations. This means the land-use plan of 2016 remains in force and the designated leisure, recreational and green spaces, which will continue to cool the city and provide urban recreation areas in the anticipated hot and sticky nights ahead, will be preserved.

This makes the People’s Petition “Keep the City Green” the third successful people’s initiative to have benefitted from Protect the Planet input.


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