Nature Heritage Green Belt, Germany
It was praised as the "silverware of German Unification" and in November 2005 proclaimed a "National Nature Heritage" - the Green Belt, the natural habitats along the former inner German border.
From the Baltic Sea to the Saxon-Bavarian Vogtland, it connects 17 natural habitats. It is not just a cross section through nearly all the landscapes Germany has to offer, from the north-German lowlands to the low mountain ranges, but also a valuable corridor in this landscape that has been drastically carved up.
The former border ruthlessly divided the country up into East and West over nearly 1,400 km. Nature was the sole beneficiary of this cruel barrier. Between barbed wire and border patrols, it was free to roam where it pleased for decades. And so a wilderness was able to grow in the border strip, a rarity in our otherwise intensively cultivated landscape.
The death zone turned out to be a lifeline. The region between the so-called border patrol path and the former state border between the FRG and the GDR is referred to as the central Green Belt. This corridor is between 50 and 200 m wide. Fallow land, bushy areas, tall grass meadows, pioneer forests, rivers, wetlands and marshes are connected and merge into one another. In the long term, it is intended to safeguard and develop not only this belt, but also the adjacent protected areas and the extensive areas of wilderness which were preserved in the shadow of the frontier. The Green Belt Germany is the backbone of a unique national network of habitats, and is at the same time a living symbol of recent contemporary German history.