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German Green Belt

The German Green Belt ( Grünes Band Deutschland in German ) is a project of Bund Naturschutz (BUND) , one of Germany’s largest environmental groups . The project began in 1989 facing a forbidding, 870-mile (1,400 km) network of fences and guards towers the length of Germany, separating East and West. Now, one of the world’s most unusual nature reserves is being created along the old “Death Strip,” turning a monument to repression into a symbol of renewal. [1]

For decades, Germany’s form border area remains an inaccessible region. It is one of the great anomalies of Germany’s division of the world. Apart from the no man ‘s land itself, these were applied to extensive tracts of adjacent land because they were so cut off. This “Green Belt” is characterized by an exceptional wealth of species and habitats, representing a system of interbranched biotopes of national importance. The federal government, Länder and nature conservation organizations are joining forces to protect this “Green Belt” and develop it into a valuable habitat for humans and nature. Something which once divided Germany is now a symbol of national unity.[2]

East and West border

For more details on this topic, see Fortifications of the inner German border .

Construction and purpose

The Inner German Border was formally established on July 1, 1945 as the boundary between the Western and Soviet occupation zones of Germany. On the eastern side, it is one of the world’s most heavily fortified frontiers, defined by a continuous line of high-metal fences and walls, barbed wire, alarms, anti-vehicle ditches, watchtowers, automatic booby traps and minefields. It was patrolled by 50,000 armed guards who faced German, British and US guards and soldiers. [3]

The Allied zones of occupation in post-war Germany, highlighting the Soviet zone (red), the inner German border (heavy black line) and the zone from which British and American troops withdrew in July 1945 (purple). The provincial boundaries are those of Nazi Germany, before the present Länder (federal states) were established.

Despite the extensiveness of the Inner Border, it was the Berlin Wall (Berliner Mauer) that would serve as the infamous representation of the “Iron Curtain” and the Cold War . The Berlin Wallwas a barrier that divided Berlin from 1961 to 1989, constructed by the German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany) starting on 13 August 1961, that completely cut off (by land) West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin Until it was opened in November 1989. In practice, the Wall served to prevent the massive emigration and defection that marked East Germany and the communist Eastern Bloc during the post-World War II period.

From the outset, West Germany and the Allies rejected East Germany’s legitimacy. [4] The “West” saw the creation of the GDR as an extension of the Soviet Union and an illegitimate heir to German history and culture following World War II . The East German government seeks to define the country as a legitimate state in its own right [5] and portrayed West Germany as a territory (feindliches Ausland) – a capitalist, semi-fascist state that exploited its citizens, sought to regain the lost territories of the Third Reich, and stances to the peaceful socialism of the GDR . [6]


The GDR side of the Inner German Border had by far a more complex system of fortifications and border controls than the Federal Republic of Germany ( FRG ) which ran 1,381 kilometers (858 mi) long and between 50-200 kilometers deep, the German portion ran from the Baltic Sea to Czechoslovakia with the entire “Iron Curtain” extending from the Arctic to the Black Sea. The fortifications were indeed formidable with visible fences with barbed wire, guard towers, heavily armed guards, and mine fields.

The first area which one would have encountered along the border, would have been the “restrictive zone” (Sperrzone). This section was a 5 kilometer (3.1 mi) wide area running parallel to the border. This is a continuous expanded metal fence with 1,185 kilometers (736 mi) long and 2 meters (6.6 ft) high. It was made with low-voltage electrified strands of barbed wire and when the wire was touched or cut, an alarm was activated to alert nearby guards. [7] Behind this fencing came the heavily guarded “protective strip” (Schutzstreifen). This area is adjacent to the GDRThese towers made it possible for East German guards in order to fire upon anyone attempting an escape. [8]

With all of these deadly defensive measures in place, it came as no surprise that this “death strip” of land was referred to as ” no-man’s land .” It would be fitting that the train “no-mans land” would become the future “Green Belt.” From a nature conservation standpoint, the Iron Curtain was a blessing, a vast strip of land in which wildlife thrived. Freed for 40 years of wildfire and farming, wild animals and plants prospered. [9]

Becoming the “Green Belt”


For the last decades of the “Iron Curtain”, an insurmountable physical form and ideological border in Europe. Soon political change would be instigated in 1989, when the Pan-European Picnictook place on the Hungarian-Austrian border, close to the town of Sopron. [10] This crucial moment marks the beginning of the end of the GDR and the dismantling of its extensive border. Two decades after its fall, the border between East and West Germany would become Europe’s biggest nature reserve: an 858-mile “ecological treasure trove”, no longer the Iron Curtain but the Green Belt, and home to more than 600 rare and endangered species of birds, mammals, plants and insects. [11]

The history of the Green Belt does not just begin with the fall of the Berlin Wall but earlier with the creation of the Bundesverband und Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland (BUND), part of the larger organization Friends of the Earth . On July 20, 1975 BUND was created by Horst Stern, Prof. Bernhard Grzimek, Dr. Herbert Gruhl, Enoch zu Guttenberg, Hubert Weinzierl, Hubert Weiger and 16 other environmentalist. [12]From the Western side of the border, the BUND was able to see different species, among other animals, thriving in such a hostile environment. In this way nature conservationists from the Bavarian branch of the BUND have been charting the natural features of the border corridor from the Western side since 1975, verifying the great diversity of species and habitats of the former death zone. [10]

In December 1989, the BUND organized the first all-German meeting with 400 nature conservationists from East and West, at the Bavarian-Saxon border in Hof. Here the concept and name of the “Green Belt” was born, and the first resolution was unanimously made to protect it. 13 years later, during the inauguration by Mikhail Gorbachev of the LandArt project “West-Eastern Gate” in the Eichsfeld, the vision of the European Green Belt was established. [10]

Planning and implementation

Less than a month after-the GDR ouvert icts border with the FRG is 9 November 1989 organizers Began working to create the Green Belt. The efforts of the BUND early on have spurred collaborations with the federal government to ensure the future of conservation with a united Germany. The BUND wanted the border area “should be protected as the main backbone of Central Europe” and to ensure that it is more germane than ever. [1]

In order to prove the value of the land, the BUND and the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation ( BfN ) worked in collaboration and began to develop inventory of ecosystems and species along the Green Belt. [1] This included teams of ornithologists, botanists, and entomologists working in the area.

The Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, for the creation of the Green Belt, which would allow the development of a new German-wide system of ecological corridors. These formations have been crucial to preserving the bio-diversity created from the border . With the border being almost untouched by humans, it is much easier to live in a natural wilderness. [11]

The throngs of data and support for the Green Belt came when Mikhail Gorbachev endorsed the initiative. Gorbachev became the first person to buy a “Green Belt share” which had opened the doors for people to give money to BUND and Friends of the Earth to purchase the land. [1] Those involved in these efforts were linked when in 2005 German Chancellor Angela Merkeldesignated the Green Belt as part of Germany’s National Natural Heritage and is highlighted in the German government’s National Strategy on Biological Diversity. In 2010 there was the completion of a process in which the National Länder and their nature conservation foundations. This would help to secure the land for nature conservation and the importance of conservation and fostering of the national ecological network. [2]


The German Green Belt straddles the 1,400-kilometer (870-mile) train East-West border and only contains part of the larger “Iron Curtain” border.

The Green Belt goes through all of the major land regions in Germany. In collaboration with individual states, the BUND and BfN were able to create a system of management that would ensure preservation. Each of the regions would help towards realizing the Green Belt’s interest in the area of ​​nature, culture and history.

These “regions” include:

  • Elbe – Altmark – Wendland: Grenzerfahrungen im Vierländereck
  • Harz: Harz ohne Grenzen – Auf Harzer Grenzwegen durch Natur und Geschichte (with the focus on natural and cultural history along the east-west border through the Harz region)
  • Thüringer Wald and Schiefergebirge / Frankenwald: Das Grüne Band (inter) aktiv erleben (about actively and interactively experiencing the Green Belt in the Thuringian and Franconian forests) [13]

Beyond the German borders

Environmentalist has been working to extend the Green Belt beyond the German borders to reflect the larger “Iron Curtain” of the former Soviet states. The European Green Belt has been developed by the Iron Curtain and runs the length of Europe, from the Barents Sea in the North to the Adriatic and the Black Sea in the south. In all, it extends for over 12,500 km along the borders of 24 states. [14]


The Green Belt was also called for the simple fact that the color is in abundance along the road. Part of the efforts to understand the bio-diversity of “green belt inventory” was conducted by the BUND with its Project Office Green Belt and supported by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN). The results of the “longest” inventory ever undertaken by the German nature conservationists underline the ecological value of the 1,393 km-long and 177 km 2 wide network of habitats: [15]

  • 109 different types of habitats
  • 48% of endangered habitat types according to the Red List of Germany
  • 28% nature reserves
  • 38% flora-fauna habitats (under EU Habitats Directive)
  • 60% running / standing water bodies, large grassland, fallow land and woods
  • 85% of the area and 80% of the length is still close-to-nature [15]

The diversity of the landscape is an important refuge and home to many species and species: rare orchids like the lady’s slipper , the dragonfly clubtail , the marsh fritillary , the whinchat , the red-backed shrike , the black stork , the kingfisher and the otter .

Yet, despite the unstopping efforts of the hundreds of people involved in making the Green Belt become a reality, there have been still gaps throughout. The BfN has increased efforts to ensure the areas of deficiency are controlled to ensure both citizens and citizens get the most out of the deal. The federal agency HAS Placed this info was website showing Their continued dedication to the success of the project and to future generations are aware Ensure icts of current and historical significance.


The efforts of the BUND, the BfN, and the local states, using the Green Belt for both conservation and nature tourism. The Green Belt is a landscape of memories. Not only does it have unique natural aspects, it is at the same time as a living monument to German reunification. This unique combination of nature, culture and history is the basis of the “Experience Green Belt” project. Nature conservation is combined with sustainable tourism in the regions of Thuringian Forest & Slate Mountains / Franconian Forest, Elbe-Altmark-Wendland and the Harz Mountains. [16]

Work done in the three model regions between 2007 and 2010, with a range of landscape management measures, uniform signage along the entire stretch, specially marked cycles and walking paths, exhibitions and displays, information points depicting events along the border, and specially developed nature -experience and tourism offerings. The aim is not only to overcome administrative lines, but also to erase the lines of division between those who work in nature conservation, agriculture, tourism and the upkeep of historical monuments. [17]

As an ambitious conservation projects, there are still a number of tasks; one of the largest is creating more than 200 kilometers of gaps in the Green Belt. [1] The Green Belt has become an important part of Germany’s tourist industry. At points along the road, the accounts of the border. [18]

See also

  • Greenbelt
  • European Green Belt


  1. ^ Jump up to:e Schwägerl, Christian (4 April 2011). “Along Scar from Iron Curtain, Green Belt Rises in Germany” . Yale Environment 360 . Retrieved 20 February 2015 .
  2. ^ Jump up to:b “Federal Agency for Nature Conservation: National Strategy on Biological Diversity” (PDF) . BfN . Retrieved 3 March 2015 .
  3. Jump up^ Faringdon, Hugh (1986). Confrontation: The Strategic Geography of NATO and the Warsaw Pact . London: Routledge & Kegan Paul Books. p. 284. ISBN  0-7102-0676-3.
  4. Jump up^ Kindermann, Gottfried Karl (1994). Bih-Jaw, Lin ; Myers, James T, eds. Chapter 12: Recent ROC-PRC unification policies in the light of the German experience . Columbia: University of South Carolina Press. pp. 220-221. ISBN  978-1-57003-024-6 .
  5. Jump up^ Lot, Wilfred (2004). Europe, Cold War and Coexistence, 1953-1965 . London: Routledge. p. 274. ISBN  978-0-7146-5465-2 .
  6. Jump up^ Schweitzer, Carl Christoph (1995). Politics and government in Germany, 1944-1994: basic documents . Providence, RI: Berghahn Books. p. 50. ISBN  978-1-57181-855-3 .
  7. Jump up^ Rottman, Gordon L. (2008). The Berlin Wall and the Intra-German Border 1961-1989 . Oxford: Osprey. p. 29. ISBN  978-1-84603-193-9 .
  8. Jump up^ Rottman, Gordon L. (2008). The Berlin Wall and the Intra-German Border 1961-1989 . Oxford: Osprey. pp. 23-29. ISBN  978-1-84603-193-9 .
  9. Jump up^ Collins, Richard (November 17, 2008). “Iron Curtain leaves a green mark” . Irish Examiner . Retrieved 30 April 2015 .
  10. ^ Jump up to:c “History” . Band Deutschland Grunes . Retrieved March 6, 2015 .
  11. ^ Jump up to:b “From Iron Curtain to Green Belt . The Independent. May 17, 2009.
  12. Jump up^ “History” . BUND: Friends of the Earth Germany . Retrieved 2 March 2015 .
  13. Jump up^ “Experience Green Belt” . BfN . Retrieved 30 April 2015 .
  14. Jump up^ “The European Green Belt” . BfN: Federal Agency for Nature Conservation . Retrieved 28 April 2015 .
  15. ^ Jump up to:b “Green Belt Germany – Diversity Non-stop” . Green Belt Germany . Retrieved 30 April 2015 .
  16. Jump up^ “Green Belt Germany” . Experience Green Belt . Retrieved April 29, 2015 .
  17. Jump up^ “Experience Green Belt” . BfN . Retrieved April 29, 2015 .
  18. Jump up^ “From Iron Curtain to Green Belt . The Independent. May 17, 2009 . Retrieved 30 April 2015 .

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