War wounds

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.

Bunker with mosses

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.

Anti-tank ditch in Haacht

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.

Bunker with mosses

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.

Anti-tank ditch in Haacht

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.

Old Mercedes arme truck

War wounds are omnipresent in the landscape, but as always, Mother Nature will heal all the wounds.

Anti-tank ditch in Haacht

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5 Responses to War wounds

  1. jeffollerton says:

    Nice interpretation of the landscape. It’s true that nature can always colonise and exploit post-human landscapes, be it wars or industrial activities. But some of the long-term effects of wars are more subtle and potentially have far-reaching effects, for examples changes in agricultural policy related to concerns about food security – see my recent post related to this:

    https://jeffollerton.wordpress.com/2014/12/13/extinction-of-british-bees-and-flower-visiting-wasps-a-new-assessment-of-rates-and-causes/

    Post-war ecology is not really a sub-field of ecology, but perhaps it should be? Or are the human impacts of war so horrific that they trump any concerns about the environment? I may have to write a short blog post about this.

    • Useful additions to my story, thanks! I realised through your comment that war in Belgium off course is long long history, which gave nature more time to regain its ground. Nature conservation in war zones might indeed be very hard. When we can’t take good care of humans, how can we conserve the nature?

  2. Very interesting post- love the photos, human!😺

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