The military has scarred the landscape all over Flanders. The cities and countryside are scattered with forts, bunkers and other war gear, all once with an important function, now just symbols of a forgotten past.
These remnants of a violent past, although human-made, however provide a true blessing for nature. They create safe havens for diversity and add a welcome element of variation into the landscape.
With their strange shapes and structures, variety in materials and topography, they drastically improve the possibilities for all kinds of wild- and plantlife, not in the least in the impoverished Flemish nature.
A lot of these structures are now protected for their natural values. Anti-tank ditches, for example, serve as long ribbons of biodiversity through the landscape, while many bunkers serve as hibernation spot for bats. All of it now acts as nice walking areas, even in this chilly winter weather, the condition in which I discovered part of this beauty.
Some war remnants are less obvious, big or permanent, but maybe as interesting. Some weeks ago, we found an old army truck, abandoned in a field. It started hosting mosses and algae and might even serve as a refuge for little mammals and birds.
War wounds are omnipresent in the landscape, but as always, Mother Nature will heal all the wounds.
Anti-tank ditch in Haacht