ARTICLE: Ecosystem services of allotment and community gardens: a Leipzig, Germany case study
Allotment gardens and community gardens provide important ecosystem services to urban communities, such as local climate and water regulation, as well as habitat provision for biodiversity. Using the city of Leipzig as a case study, we assess the effect of urban gardening type and intensity of management on ecosystem services and biodiversity by comparing allotment and community gardens. Employing a stratified sampling design, we assessed 30 allotment plots of different management intensity, including vacant plots, and six adjacent community gardens along a gradient of urbanity, using in-depth field surveys, remote sensing analyses and interviews. Our results show a bimodal relationship of overall vascular plant species richness with management intensity with highest species richness in medium intensively-managed plots, as they provide space for both cultivated edible and ornamental species as well as native, spontaneous species. In comparison to allotment gardens, community gardens provide a higher ratio of permeable soil surface and a slightly higher microbial soil activity, implying important differences in water regulation and nutrient cycling properties. With regards to climate regulation, old mature trees make a considerable contribution to above ground carbon storage, but are largely restricted to communal areas of the allotment estates due to code regulation. Based on our results, we discuss the impact of allotment gardening association codes and garden type and ways forward for gardeners and urban planners to promote biodiversity and ecosystem services provision.