Green roof habitats

Green roof: habitats facing climate change and biodiversity crisis

In view of climate change and the biodiversity crisis, the sustainable and life-friendly design of urban spaces is of great importance - both in Austria and globally. In Austria, a total of 5768 km² has been sealed by construction activity by 2020. That is 7% of the land area and 18% of the available permanent settlement area (i.e. the potentially inhabitable space in which people live and work). In cities, the mainly unused roof surfaces account for 30-50% of sealed surfaces. Green roofs and facade greening are therefore increasingly being propagated as an important contribution to sustainable construction. The tecnical advantages of green roofs, such as the retention of rainwater or insulation against heat and cold, are well documented. However, the contribution of green buildings to the promotion of biodiversity as well as the effects of extreme climatic conditions (such as heat and drought) on the green roof vegetation have so far been insufficiently investigated.

In the project "Green Roof Habitats" we investigate together with the participating schools

1) what contribution green roofs can make to improve biodiversity,

2) whether green roofs in the Alpine region can persist in the long term in view of climate change and the associated extreme weather events, and

3) which modern methods for surveying insect diversity are particularly useful in the context of Citizen Science.

We will investigated this together with schools with access to green roofs - as well as with citizen scientists who have their own green roofs. The contributions of the partner schools includes looking after insect traps, taking measurements (temperature, soil moisture, evaporation, etc.) and observing animals and plants on the green roof and in the vicinity of the schools.

Through investigations in the immediate vicinity of the school, reference is made to the reality of life of the pupils involved. In this way, even complex topics such as biodiversity, climate change and genetic methods can be taught in a practical way and awareness is raised for challenges related to global change. In addition to the schools involved, owners of green roofs can also participate in the research by reporting private green roofs in a database and by caring out simple observations (e.g. butterflies).

(Photocredit © Johannes Rüdisser)