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The Green Belt as a European Ecological Network strengths and gaps

The Green Belt as a European Ecological Network strengths and gaps

Karl-Friedrich Thöne

Karl-Friedrich Thöne THE GREEN BELT IN THURINGIA – A VISIONARY IDEA – Support in the declaration and designation of protected natural reserves. – Assistance in the clarification of land ownership questions. – Implementation of land development and land use measures. – Promotion of sustainable land use and ongoing management. – Assistance in the realisation of environmentally-friendly tourism initiatives. – Coordination of public funding and financing models. – Public relations. A project group entitled The Green Belt Thuringia was set up within the Thuringian Ministry for Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Nature Conservation to coordinate the activities of the overall project. THE MAIN PILLARS OF THE PROJECT LAND DEVELOPMENT Fundamental contributions towards reconciling ecological and agricultural interests as well as reorganising land ownership and land use aspects were achieved through the implementation of specific land development measures. This process was supported through agricultural structural development plans, land consolidation procedures and village revitalisation initiatives. The aim was to resolve land use conflicts and to develop land management and development concepts together with all the parties involved. ENVIRONMENTALLY PROTECTED AREAS 30 Dankmarshäuser Rhäden – the flood plains of the Werra river (Wartburg County) All land usage conflicts concerning nature conservation, agriculture and local administrations were easily resolved through a simplified land reallocation process. The most valuable sections of the Green Belt were declared by the Government of Thuringia as environmentally protected areas in the form of nature reserves, landscape conservation areas or areas of outstanding natural beauty with the aim of securing their longterm existence as natural habitats. The most valuable sections of the Green Belt cover 30% of the total area: – 1330 hectares of nature reserves – 580 hectares of Natura 2000 – 19 hectares of protected natural landmarks These are the key sections of larger protected areas.

Karl-Friedrich Thöne THE GREEN BELT IN THURINGIA – A VISIONARY IDEA DEVELOPMENT OF NATURAL HABITATS AND BIOTOPES Through a series of specific measures for improving the quality of biotopes, the Free State of Thuringia has supported the free and sustainable development of natural habitats. The objective was to create a network of biotopes that can also incorporate relevant areas that adjoin the Green Belt. A key factor in this approach is the use of sustainable and extensive farming and agricultural methods. The Free State of Thuringia has successfully secured national funding for the Green Belt, for example for a “Habitat Type Inventory of the German Green Beltand the “Experience Green Belt” pilot development programme in the Thüringer Wald-Thüringer Schiefergebirge region. In addition, the Green Belt has been incorporated into two large-scale nature conservation projects, the “Eichsfeld-Werratal Green Beltand “Rodachtal – Lange Berge – Steinachtal Green Belt”, each covering a stretch of 130 km. The Green Belt has also been the site of mitigation measures that compensate for environmental impacts caused by other development projects, for example for the expansion of the A38 motorway. PUBLIC RELATIONS AND EDUCATIONAL WORK The future of the Green Belt can only be preserved when all concerned work together towards its development. Raising public awareness is therefore an especially important and effective means of pursuing this aim. The progress of the project was documented and publicised in the media mainly in the local and regional papers as well as through special events and campaigns. Both the historical meaning as well as natural importance of the Green Belt needs to be communicated to a wider audience and to the younger generation in particular. The concept included educational activities both in schools as well as for the general public. New and attractive initiatives for were devised for the Green Belt that complement and augment the existing environmental education programmes in Thuringia. FINAL REMARKS 31 Pupils at the border museum Teistungen (Eichsfeld County) The declaration of the Green Belt as a National Nature Monument (a new category introduced as part of the new Federal Nature Conservation Act, BNatschG) is not currently envisaged by the Government of Thuringia. A final decision will follow pending the results of an F&E research and development project commissioned by the Federal Agency for Nature

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