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Nature Preserves: Germany Preserves 77,000 Acres in Former Military Bases

Jun 19, 2015 06:19 PM EDT
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Less Beetle Bailey than Land of Beetles, 62 German military bases and training areas have now been declared nature preserves, providing 77,000 new acres of protected land. The land – scattered across the country – has been added to the European Green Belt, a protected swath of land along the line of the former Iron Curtain, the New York Times said.

The disused military bases will become nature preserves for eagles, woodpeckers, bats, beetles, and other wildlife –increasing Germany's protected lands by nearly a quarter, according to the German government, reported UK's Independent.

"We are seizing a historic opportunity with this conversion – many areas that were once no-go zones are no longer needed for military purposes. We are fortunate that we can now give these places back to nature," said German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks, according to the Independent.  

The land is free now because Germany's military no longer uses conscription-as of 2011 – and is in the midst of a long-term reform plan toward a professional service of 170,000 and around 15,000 short-term volunteers, said the New York Times.

While the German government considered selling the land as real estate, ultimately they decided to make a grand environmental gesture, adding it to the Green Belt, reported The Independent.

In strong contrast to much of Europe, the land was nearly undisturbed, because it lay in the midst of border fortifications of the Iron Curtain, a spokesperson from the European Green Belt said, according to The Independent.

"Today the European Green Belt is an ecological network and memorial landscape running from the Barents Sea (near the Arctic Ocean, off Norway and Russia) to the Black Sea," the spokesperson said, as reported by The Independent.

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