On behalf of the central federation of allotment gardeners in Austria a three-year biodiversity study has been taking place for two years in 40 gardens in the four most important climate zones of Vienna.
The focus is on the survey of trees, shrubs, perennials, vegetables and herbs (except for lawn, wet biotopes and potted plants) as well as on bugs, cicadas and phytopathogenic fungi. The gardens are checked and scooped up several times a year.
It was interesting to note that depending on the climate area between 172 and 250 plant species or genera from up to 82 plant families were found in the gardens.
Among the plant pathogens, there was even a worldwide first description, a Peronospora Albugo Brévia (Mildew), named the “Asteromella forsythiae Bedlan” which was found in the 14th communal district of Vienna. Additionally there was a first finding of an already known fungal disease for Austria and several first findings for Vienna.
For the bugs and cicadas found and determined up to now, it turned out that around 56% of the domestic country bug families living in Austria and around 50% of the domestic cicada families can be found on our allotments.
During the coming autumn the findings of this extensive study will be finalised. The evaluation and assessment of the results will probably not be available until 2019.
An exceptional ambiance characterised the flower gardens Hirschstetten where the 14th allotment gardens exhibition was organised from April 20th – 22nd.
More than 100 exhibitors presented (nearly) everything that makes an allotment gardener's heart beat faster. So, at the beginning of the gardening season the allotment gardeners and gardening amateurs could find information and tips, see innovations and gather new ideas.
The most prominent allotment gardener from Vienna, the actual town councillor and future mayor of Vienna Michael Ludwig, personally opened the exhibition. Both professional exhibitors and voluntary organisations, among them of course the central allotment federation, were present.
This regular annual venue of same-minded people was also this year a great success.
Black bird, song thrush, fink and starling – our feathered roommates enjoy the marvellous nature on allotments in the same way as we humans do. They find their food, raise their young ones and bring us much joy with their sweet singing. Therefore, the first bird survey took place in spring, on the Lower Austrian allotments. The bird protection organisation BirdLife Austria presented these exciting results in 2017.
All together, at the end of April, 10 allotment associations, which had participated with enthusiasm in the bird counting action, reported their most common garden birds to Obmann Franz Riederer. “Most of the bird reports were from the Krems allotment gardens followed by Stattersdorf and Traisenstrand/Edelwies. The action was a complete success – the allotment gardener’s heart also beats for birds!” the chairman reports full of pride.
The most common birds on allotments
The field sparrow grabbed the gold medal in the first allotment competition, closely followed by the blackbird and the great tit. The garden red tail just missed the podium, but was nevertheless sighted on 60% of all the allotments. These results of the survey from Lower Austria also coincide with the bird species, which are found on Austria’s local gardens, commented Norbert Teufelbauer from BirdLife, specialist in ornithology.
Record holder St. Pölten Kollerberg
Particularly exciting is the biodiversity observed on Kollerberg’s allotments: The bird friends spotted 22 of the 31 sighted bird species! With this result the allotment garden association Stattersdorf (15 species), Klosterneuburg Rollfähre and also Krems with 8 spotted species could be clearly left behind. Birds visit natural gardens with a diverse garden design and presenting many native crops, hedges and fruit trees. Such allotments are especially attractive to the feathered friends and one will soon be rewarded with a multitude of bird species.
Special highlights of the bird counting were the sighted lesser spotted woodpecker, one chiffchaff and one wren. These small birds like gardens with some higher trees, but also presenting denser corners with shrubs and hedges and a large range of insects. “Birds are considered to be important indicators of an intact and a livable environment. The more bird species you can observe on the allotment, the more valuable it is for the animal world” stated the biologist.
The national federation of allotment gardeners of Lower Austria and the federation of the ÖBB Agriculture, with their local departments in Lower Austria invited all the associations, to report people ready to count birds for the „hour of winter birds“ – beginning of January 2018 – and people ready to count birds for the activity “spring and birds on the allotments” – end of April 2018. Not much effort and input is needed, just an hour of one’s time. The people ready to count birds that have been reported to the organisers will receive the necessary information and documents in due time. Those members, who already counted birds as “pioneers” last year informed that they will also be available for this action this year, because this „work“ in the garden brings them special pleasure.
BirdLife is the only countrywide and international bird protection organisation in Austria. For the last 8 years already BirdLife has been successfully running the Austrian wide bird survey “hour of the winter birds” around the 6th January. More information can be found at www.birdlife.at