I was on my bike, cycling to Berlin's Gleisdreieck area to attend Re:publica, Germany's hip and cool digital culture event, when a pile of rubble caught my attention. "Gleisdreieck", or "rail track triangle", has in recent years become a hotspot of urban development. For decades, the area had been a kind of inner-city wilderness, an urban savannah with little formal use.
Refugees had created allotments there to grow food, the occasional bird-watcher came by, and youngsters from surrounding apartment blocks met in secret hideouts. Not any more. A very attractive park has been created, which is used by a diverse mix of people. People who roller-skater, cycle or picnic have discovered the area, little cafés have opened. The former neo-wild character of the Gleisdreieck is now formalized: "bio-gravel" says one sign in front of an area covered in small stones that harbors an amazing diversity of plants. A forest that has grown over former rail tracks is now officially called "city wilderness" – entry forbidden.
Amidst all this amazing development, I saw the pile of rubble – indicating a clean-up operation for yet another building project. And on top of the pile, I saw a rabbit. Rabbits are common in Berlin. But this rabbit made me think: with cities covering growing area of land, we humans and our spaces build the new wilderness for animals and plants, an Anthropocene wilderness that is to them what natural wilderness used to be for us. Can you spot the rabbit?
This is the continuation of a 10-part series where renowned journalist, author and biologist Christian Schwägerl discusses the many ramifications of the concept of the “Anthropocene”.
Read the whole Anthropo-scene series.