From Conflict Rises Conservation

A great piece in Yale Environment 360 by Christian Schwägerl, reports on the transformation of the 870 mile long corridor along the Berlin wall, into one of the world’s most unique sites of ecological conservation. The piece is great itself, but the concept of course-and the site’s existence–is beyond uplifting.  Perhaps a true testament to the idea that geography and the politics of a space can eventually change for the better. We have no shortage of news on degradation (dead baby dolphins in the gulf, wild fires, radioactive waste into the ocean, etc)  and often the restoration stories are smaller scale (but they are still happening).  So, this space is symbolically as well as physically important right now, in my opinion. 

While the Iron Curtain stood, this dividing corridor was a dreaded place, home to torture, suffering and brutality. It was the place where people felt the personal implications of a much larger geopolitical battle. And these very characteristics of course created a space that remained largely undisturbed as development’s momentum sped around it.  Just after the wall fell in November of 89, a number of environmentalists were already calling for this place to be transformed into a preserve. I am personally interested in the psychology of space,  environmental and geographic transformations as well as memorialization. So to me, Germany has always been an interesting example of confronting bloodied-hands legacies. And the forward thinking of those who looked at this space and saw the potential to create something beautiful is a testament to that openness. Ultimately, as Schwägerl states in his article, the people moving the project forward, “are happy that their work has helped turn a symbol of death into a symbol of life.”

For a full review of the ins and outs of the space, what endangered species (1000 of them!) have continued to find homes there, and who the first person was to buy a share in the space in 2002, read the full article.

Image via Yale Environment 360.




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