‘Nature knows no boundaries’ is an often stated slogan, but most relevant in Europe with its dense pattern of political borders which frequently follow natural features such as mountain ranges or river systems. Regarding the European Green Belt, nature does not only know no boundaries, nature is uniting across borders: people, organizations and states, large pristine areas throughout the continent, animal and plant populations as well as Europe’s history and future.
Along the Iron Curtain, which separated the European continent in East and West for nearly 40 years, an outstanding ecological network and living memorial landscape developed. Despite its inhumanity, the Iron Curtain granted nature a pause for breath along more than 12,500 kilometres from the Barents Sea, along the Baltic Coast, through Central Europe and the Balkans to the Adriatic and Black Sea.
The vision of a Green Belt connecting the very North with the very South of Europe was officially discussed for the first time ten years ago during the international conference “Perspectives of the Green Belt” in Bonn (Germany) conducted by the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) in July 2003.
Currently there are four sections of activity to be distinguished: The Fennoscandian Green Belt, the Baltic Green Belt, the Green Belt Central Europe and the Balkan Green Belt. For each of the four sections of the European Green Belt a Regional Coordinator is appointed and in each country National Focal Points are nominated.
The setting up of a Coordination Group has been the first milestone within the new project “Advancing the European Green Belt Initiative”, which is financially supported by the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation with means of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, and jointly implemented by EuroNatur and the BUND Green Belt Project Office. IUCN is a member of the Coordination Group and supports the initiative. The project started in September 2011 and has a duration of three years.
The main activities of the project to further enhance the European Green Belt Initiative are to:
- develop the organizational structure of the Green Belt Initiative
- generate a sustainable model for financing the Green Belt Initiative
- develop a functioning communication strategy, addressing both internal and external aspects.
All aspects are followed by a core project team led by the BUND-Project Office Green Belt and EuroNatur. Results will be elaborated in the Coordination Group and then presented at international conferences.
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