Project Profile: The European Green Belt
The European Green Belt
Development of an ecological network along the former Iron Curtain border
Until the Iron Curtain fell in 1989, Europe was split by a political, ideological and physical divide from the Barents Sea between Norway and Russia to the Black Sea between Bulgaria and Turkey. Because use of the land along the border was tightly restricted, nature in this no-man’s land was largely left undisturbed. This created a continuous ribbon of valuable and in some cases expansive habitats now known as the European Green Belt.
Initiatives to conserve the Green Belt and foster its development emerged separately in Fennoscandia, Germany and the Balkans. In response to an inventory study demonstrating the high conservation value of the belt along the former internal German border, BfN organised a first international conference on the European Green Belt in 2003 to combine and strengthen the various regional initiatives. Soon afterwards, IUCN took over overall coordination of the European Green Belt, which touches on or crosses 23 states.
The aim of initiatives surrounding the European Green Belt is to conserve and foster the development of this ribbon of valuable habitats as a Pan-European ecological network. But the Green Belt also has a historical, political and social dimension. A feature that once divided nations can now serve as a symbol of Europe growing together.
It promotes cross-border cooperation in nature conservation and provides opportunities for sustainable regional development. This last point is highly important for people in the largely underdeveloped border regions and a precondition for their mindful care of this outstanding part of Europe’s natural heritage.
Programme of work:
A programme of work has been developed to implement the European Green Belt, stating specific objectives and activities and laying down a structure for cooperation.
To take into account regional physiographic, historical, political and social differences, and in view of the sheer size of the area involved, the Green Band has been divided into three sections with a regional coordinator for each section. The regional coordinators work closely with the IUCN and national focal points.
Fennoscandia and the Baltic states
States: Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy and Croatia
Coordinator: Regional Green Belt Project Office, BUND/Friends of the Earth Germany
The Green Belt has a special meaning for Germany because of the country’s former division. BfN is therefore involved at both national and European level by funding numerous local projects and by supporting the coordinators (primarily in the organisation of working meetings).
Further information on the mapping project.
Engels, B., Heidrich, A., Nauber, J., Riecken, U., Schmauder, H. & Ullrich, K. (2004): Perspectives of the Green Belt – Chances for an Ecological Network from the Barents Sea to the Adriatic Sea? BfN-Skripten 102. Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, Bonn, 95 p.
Part 1 (2.5 MB), Part 2 (2.6 MB)
Riecken, U. & Ullrich, K. (2010): From Death Zone to Life Line - 20 Years of Green Belt. - Korea Research Institute for Human Settlements. KRIHS Special Report Vol. 15: 17-32.
Special Issue: The Green Belt - 20 years after the fall of the Iron Curtain (2009): Natur und Landschaft: Zeitschrift für Naturschutz und Landschaftspflege. - Vol. 84, Issue 9/10.
Terry A., Ullrich K. & Riecken U. (2006): The Green Belt of Europe: From Vision to Reality. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. 214 p.
Wrbka, T., Zmelik, K. & Grünweis, F. M. [eds.] (2009): The European Green Belt: Border. Wilderness. Future. - Weitra : Bibliothek der Provinz. 343 p.