Wildlife in Germany will get a quarter more land to roam over, as the country’s government has decided to turn 62 unused military bases into sanctuaries for rare birds and other animals.
Serving once as military bases at the center of the Cold War, the green areas just west of the Iron Curtain will now become nature reserves for eagles, woodpeckers, bats, and beetles. Together the bases are 31,000 hectares — that’s equivalent to 40,000 football pitches. The 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 will become another addition to what is now known as the European Green Belt.
Turning these remnants of the Iron Curtain into conservation areas shows that it’s possible to embellish something that once represented decades of enmity into something as beautiful as an ecological monument.