Germany's environmental minister Barbara Hendricks announced that 60 of its former military bases, spanning over 76,000 acres of forests, marshes and meadows will be turned into nature preserves that are aimed at providing sanctuary for the country's indigenous and rare birds.
These areas that were built during World War II were steadily abandoned throughout the years following the war's end. However, although they were no longer needed for military purposes, many of the areas remained off limits and closed to the public. The decision that was announced Friday came after much debate on whether to sell the acreage off to private investors.
According to Minister Hendricks, "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."
The bases that are mostly in former West Germany will go towards providing habitats for woodpeckers, eagles (including the endangered golden eagle), owls, mockingbirds, and wrens as well as several species of bats. While some of the structures will be torn down due to environmental and safety concerns, many of the bases will remain intact, letting nature run its course. The best outcome, aside from new habitats for increasingly threatened animals, is that many of these spaces will now be open to the public. Hikers, bird watchers and curious visitors looking to enjoy a previously off limit piece of Germany can all watch nature's mastery at reclaiming our mess into a new home for all sorts of life.
For most of the bases that were abandoned after the unification of Germany, nature has had a head start. In a world where nature is constantly being torn down for new buildings to go up, it is a nice change of pace to see the reverse happening too.