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Project "Nature conservation analysis and strategy development for potential conversion areas" (german)

to database “nature conservation and military”

Leaflet of the project "Nature conservation and the military"

Nature conservation and the military in Central and South-Eastern Europe – An overview –

Manual for the usage of armed forces personnel to monitor nature values

Life, Natura 2000 and the military published by the European Union

EU LIFE on the front line of nature conservation in military areas

EU LIFE project „DANAH - Nature in Defence“

EU LIFE Project „Restoration of Biological Diversity in Military Training Area and Natura 2000 site “Adazi”“

The projects "nature conservation & the military" are/were funded by:

Military Areas of High Conservation Value
Background | Database | Problems and Solutions | Science


At first view, military practice and nature conservation have little in common. But: Since military areas are less fragmented and benefit from a rather low impact of agriculture and forestry they are of utter importance to conservation. This is not only true for Germany, but also for other areas in Europe. For example, in Germany about 620 of former and present military areas with more than 680,000 ha are of nature conservation value. These are often the only remaining sites in our cultural landscape where the establishment of large protected areas seems possible.

Since 2000 “nature conservation & the military” is a major topic at Nature Foundation David. With different projects, military training areas in Germany as well as Central- and Eastern Europe, which own a high value for nature conservation, were identified. All relevant information was compiled in databases. The aim of our efforts are to ensure the long-term protection of conservation values in those areas already taken out of military use or those to be decommissioned soon.

A great break-through in our efforts was the designation of 125.000 ha as “National Natural Heritage” (“Nationales Naturerbe”) by the German Government in 2005 and 2009 – including 90.000 ha decommissioned military training areas. These areas were put under long-term conservation. Important information for this designation was given by our database.

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German Database

The database hosts information of about 620 sites including information on their geographic location, ownership, conservation value, major species and habitats, for example. All military training areas can be visualized by GoogleEarth. Those military trainings areas were chosen for the database, which are either larger than 1,000 ha or have a size between 100 ha and 1,000 ha and are under legal protection (e.g. SPA). Only in exceptional cases areas smaller than 100 ha were accounted for the database. In this case, extremely rare species has to occur on this area.

Since 2013, the database is replaced by a new online version – including an update of information. A special focus will be given to military training areas, which will be decommissioned in the context of the personnel structure reform of the German Armed Forces (“Bundeswehr”).

Central and Eastern European Database

We are enlarging our efforts to Central and Eastern Europe where problems are alike. In cooperation with CEEweb (Central and East European Working Group for the Enhancement of Biodiversity), we try to identify military training areas – in current military use or decommissioned – which have a value for nature conservation. The focus was on military training areas larger than 1,000 ha. For these areas detailed information on their conservation value, occurring species, protection status etc. were collected for a database. All military training areas are visualized in the database by GoogleEarth.

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Problems and solutions

The governmental conservation agencies and the Federal Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) collaborate closely for those conservation relevant sites that are still in military use. The situation is more complex, however, for those sites for which utilization ceased. While a small portion of these sites is legally protected e.g. being declared as national parks or owned by NGOs, both ensuring their long-term integrity, many important sites became privately owned which potentially threatens their future status.

In addition there is the big problem of old ammunition and pollution on the sites. Especially the former military areas used by the Russian Armed Forces are often highly polluted with rotten oil tanks or other exceptional waste. The disposal of this debris is extremely important for nature value, but the removal of the ammunition is expensive and not needed for nature reasons.

Another problem is to maintain the open habitat when military activity has ceased. This leads to the classical conflict in terms of nature conservation between preservation and succession. Substantial financial resources will be needed to conserve the habitats and therefore several other suggestions exist like the use of large herbivores, fire management or the exploitation of heath.

Furthermore, former military areas come into focus as a place for the production of renewable energy. On the one hand this can affect the natural value of the areas (e. g. the effect of wind energy plants on bids and bats), but on the other hand nature conservation and climate protection can be combined perfectly by using wood from landscape management for energy production.

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Most of the military areas, and especially those used for training, contain significant, even spectacular, amounts of natural habitats and landscapes with corresponding abundances of wildlife. They are among the richest and most important sites for biodiversity in Germany. Therefore, several wildlife-projects were conducted on the military areas. With our database we are able to give support. Please, contact us for help and further information.

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Naturstiftung David
Trommsdorffstraße 5
99084 Erfurt

Fax: +49(0)361 / 555 03-39
 Naturstiftung David | Trommsdorffstraße 5 | 99084 Erfurt | Telefon 0361 555 0330 | Fax: 0361 555 0339 aktualisiert am 10.03.2014
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