The German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation announced on Thursday that it will turn 62 military bases into tranquil nature reserves.
"We are seizing a historic opportunity with this conversion -- many areas that were once no-go zones are no longer needed for military purposes," Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks said, according to Agence France-Presse.
German military reforms have allowed the country to set aside 76,600 acres of forests, marshes, meadows and moors for wildlife. "We are fortunate that we can now give these places back to nature," Hendricks said.
Ruth Schedlbauer, a spokeswoman for Germany's Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, told The Huffington Post that species like the middle spotted woodpecker, above, and lesser spotted eagle, below, will live in the sanctuaries.
The reserves will not only protect birds -- threatened bats and beetles will also thrive there, Schedlbauer said.
The majority of the former bases and training areas are in historic West Germany, west of the former Iron Curtain. The fortified borderlands that separated communist and capitalist Europe became accidental nature reserves during the Cold War. Many of these areas are now part of the European Green Belt , a chain of habitats that runs from Norway to Turkey.
"In the remoteness of the inhuman border fortifications of the Iron Curtain nature was able to develop nearly undisturbed," a Green Belt spokesperson told the Independent. "Today the European Green Belt is an ecological network and memorial landscape running from the Barents to the Black Sea."
BEFORE YOU GO
How to vote
Vote-by-mail ballot request deadline: Varies by state
For the Nov 3 election: States are making it easier for citizens to vote absentee by mail this year due to the coronavirus. Each state has its own rules for mail-in absentee voting. Visit your state election office website to find out if you can vote by mail.Get more information
In-person early voting dates: Varies by state
Sometimes circumstances make it hard or impossible for you to vote on Election Day. But your state may let you vote during a designated early voting period. You don't need an excuse to vote early. Visit your state election office website to find out whether they offer early voting.My Election Office
General Election: Nov 3, 2020
Polling hours on Election Day: Varies by state/localityMy Polling Place