Germany is planning to turn 62 military bases into wildlife sanctuaries.
The German government has announced plans to convert the 62 disused military bases on what used to be the edge of the Iron Curtain in West Germany, into nature reserves for rare eagles and woodpeckers, as well as threatened bats and beetles.
The Independent reports:
Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks said: “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.”
Together the bases take up 31,000 hectares — that’s equivalent to 40,000 football pitches. Their conversion will see Germany’s total area of protected wildlife increase by a quarter.
After toying with the idea of selling the land off as real estate, the government opted instead to make a grand environmental gesture. It another addition to what has now known as the European Green Belt.
A spokesperson from The European Green Belt told The Independent: “In the remoteness of the inhuman border fortifications of the Iron Curtain nature was able to develop nearly undisturbed.
“Today the European Green Belt is an ecological network and memorial landscape running from the Barents to the Black Sea.”
Great though the news is, it comes as tensions between Moscow and the West are at their highest since the end of the Cold War, prompted by the outbreak of violence in Ukraine last year. The European divide still appears to exist, simply having moved a few hundred miles to the east.
As RT reports: Many of the future German bird sanctuaries formerly served as NATO strongholds manned by an international force. This year will be the first since 1945 when no British troops are stationed in Germany. Poland and the Baltic states, all NATO members admitted in the past two decades, are demanding that the alliance place new permanent bases on their territory. Moscow says this is a violation of a 1997 treaty that promised no such outposts would be set up in the region, even if its members joined NATO.
While the military group has not yet said yes to Lithuania, Latvia or Poland, NATO’s headquarters in Eastern Europe, located in Poland’s Szczecin, is set to double in size in the coming years. Though not comparable in scale to the thousands of tanks on either side of the divide after World War II, the creation of a permanent rapid reaction force of over 5,000 is also in the works. After accusing Moscow of violating the 1987 treaty banning intermediate range missiles in Europe, the Pentagon is also reportedly considering deploying said ballistic missiles on the continent.
Germany itself, playing its most dominant role in the continent’s military affairs since reunification, is also taking its part. Last week, Bundeswehr tanks rolled across Poland, as the country’s former invaders participated in a large-scale integrated drill, known as Operation Noble Jump, with its allies.