Posts Tagged ‘Nature’

Large boulders 2 metres across and weighing 10 tonnes could soon begin blasting out from Kilauea, the erupting volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island. But the biggest imminent threat to residents could arise if the volcano starts spewing ash to heights of 6000 metres or more.

The conditions are similar to those when Kilauea last erupted in 1924, which showered the island in ash for several months. “That’s what I would guess will happen next,” said Don Swanson of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, in a press conference video issued on 9 May.

Kilauea has been unusually active since late April. On 30 April, the floor of the lava lake at the volcano’s summit collapsed.

The lava has been draining ever since. By 9 May, and following a 6.9-magnitude earthquake on 3 May, it had already plunged almost 300 metres into the vertical shaft below. The lava is now below the level of water-saturated rock at 600 metres above sea level. “Since the earthquake, the lava lake has dropped in a very steady manner, at 2.2 metres per hour,” said Swanson.

Steam explosions

Because the lava has sunk so low, water is now draining into the empty shaft that it previously occupied. The walls of the crater are red hot, so the water is instantly turning to steam, which is now bellowing in white clouds from the volcano summit.

What happens next is difficult to predict, said Swanson. But there could be explosions. If large rocks fall from the unstable walls of the shaft, they could block it, in which case pressure from steam will build up underneath and cause an explosion.

Once the “plug” is blown out, the steam can escape again unimpeded, until the plug is restored by rock falls.

The result would be a series of explosions followed by hiatuses. That’s what happened in 1924: there were 60 explosions over the course of four months or so.

Boulders and ash

Any explosion can produce a variety of “ejecta”, said Swanson. “You can get rocks ejected like cannonballs, weighing up to 10 tonnes and 2 [metres] in diameter,” he said.

The good news is that these boulders should fall within about a kilometre of the summit. This area is deserted. Smaller rocks the size of softballs could impact a bit further away, albeit still not far enough to reach people’s homes. But tinier fragments a fraction of an inch wide could reach peopled areas. “They would sting, but not be lethal,” says Swanson.

The most important hazard is fine ash, which can block thoroughfares and accumulate on buildings. In 1924, ash landed on railway tracks and made them too slippery for trains to run on safely.

“It’s a nuisance, especially if it goes on for several weeks,” said Tina Neal of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory at the press conference. “I’ve been in many ash falls myself, and the most difficult bit is keeping it out of your eyes.”

Meanwhile, lava fountains and steam continue to spew copiously from cracks on the island, reaching heights of 30 metres. By Monday, there were 19 fissures in total. So far, more than 30 properties have been destroyed by lava, and 2000 residents remain evacuated.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2168913-hawaiis-erupting-volcano-may-blast-out-10-tonne-cannonballs/

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by MICHAEL D’ESTRIES

Much to the chagrin of everyone who loves the great outdoors, a new species of exotic tick has officially set up residence in the United States.

The New Jersey Department of Agriculture announced last week that the longhorned tick, a species native to China, Japan and Australia has successfully survived the New Jersey winter and may be spreading throughout the state.

The tick was first discovered in the U.S. last August after a N.J. farmer walked into a county health office covered in ticks. She reported that she had been shearing the single sheep on her property when she noticed multitudes of the four-legged blood suckers crawling up her arms. A closer inspection by health officials revealed something even more frightening: nearly 1,000 ticks moving throughout her clothing.

“What she didn’t know was her entire clothing, pants and everything, they were covered in ticks,” Tadhgh Rainey, division manager of Hunterdon County Division of Health Services, told NPR.

More unusual than this sight, however, was that officials couldn’t identify the species of tick clinging to her clothes. A team of experts later determined it to be Haemaphysalis longicornis, never before seen in the U.S., and plaguing livestock that had never ventured outside the country.

A grim discovery

A description of the team’s visit to the tick-plagued farm sounds like something straight out of a horror movie.

“Investigation of the Hunterdon property in early October revealed a large number of ticks both on the sheep and throughout the paddock,” the scientists shared in a new study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology. “The ticks in the paddock were so numerous that they crawled on investigators’ pants soon after setting foot inside. The sheep was supporting hundreds of ticks, including all three active life stages (larva, nymph, adult). Although ticks were concentrated on the sheep’s ears and face, engorged ticks of all stages were readily found all over its body, including areas beneath the animal’s thick coat.”

Following a chemical treatment in September, the sheep was later declared tick-free. Visits by officials in late November found no ticks in either the paddocks or the surrounding grounds. While scientists were hopeful that the state’s cold winter temperatures might kill off any remaining populations, the longhorned tick has one evolutionary advantage that gave them pause.

“This tick overwinters in the ground,” Rainey told NJ.com. “No tick does that.”

Sure enough, when entomologists visited the site again this spring, they were disappointed to discover that the longhorned tick had successfully overwintered. They added that, based on this evidence, the new species has quite possibly “become established in the state.”

Divide and conquer

Besides its ability to burrow underground to avoid death from freezing temperatures, the longhorned also has some other characteristics that put a frightening spin on this discovery. For one thing, the tick reproduces asexually, rapidly increasing in population by cloning itself and laying thousands of eggs. The nymphs and adults also tend to “swarm” their prey, with recorded observations of hundreds of ticks hanging from their hosts like “bunches of grapes.”

“Only one tick is needed to start a population, and they can grow to high numbers quickly,” Andrea M. Egizi, Ph.D., research scientist at the Tick-Borne Disease Laboratory at Rutgers University and senior author on the report, told Entomology Today. “They are not limited by the need to find mates, which can be difficult in a small population.”

While the longhorned ticks tested at the New Jersey sheep farm came back negative for known tick-borne disease, such as Lyme disease or borreliosis, it may be only a matter of time before they become carriers. The tick is already a known transmitter of diseases in its native ranges.

If there’s any good news to come out of this discovery, it’s that the ticks apparently don’t have a taste for human, preferring instead to swarm livestock and wildlife. Unfortunately, this also makes it easier for them to spread. In late April, federal and state wildlife officials combing the area around the farm where the infestation was first discovered found a longhorned tick on a white-tailed deer, a foreboding sign for early containment efforts.

A call for vigilance

In an effort to track the extent of the tick’s spread, N.J. Department of Agriculture officials are asking people to report infestations of unusual ticks on pets or livestock. Figuring out whether or not they’re exotic or native species may be another challenge altogether.

“Like deer ticks, the nymphs of the longhorned tick are very small (resembling tiny spiders) and can easily go unnoticed on animals and people,” they said in a statement.

The group plans to continue surveillance of potentially impacted species throughout the rest of the year.

https://www.mnn.com/health/fitness-well-being/blogs/self-cloning-longhorn-tick-new-jersey

By Mindy Weisberger

Treetop-dwelling ants from Southeast Asia have an explosive defensive move: The insects take down their foes by blowing themselves up. If that sounds gut-wrenching to you, just imagine what it feels like to the ant.

Commonly known as “exploding ants,” workers in this group respond to threats by deliberately (and fatally) rupturing their body walls, spattering rivals with toxic fluid.

Exploding ants are typically lumped together into a species group called Colobopsis cylindrical, but researchers recently determined that there are at least 15 species of these self-sacrificing insects — including one previously unknown species in Borneo, which they described in a new study.

Many animals engage in chemical warfare, stewing toxic brews in their own bodies to subdue prey or scare off enemies. Venomous creatures — which include snakes, spiders, insects, fish, cephalopods, amphibians, reptiles and even some types of mammals — deliver their toxins with stings, stabs or bites.

But others, such as skunks, venom-squirting scorpions and bombardier beetles, opt to spray their chemicals. In fact, bombardier beetles can emit their heated, poisonous blasts even after they’ve been swallowed, with unfortunate results for their predator’s digestion (and a sticky escape for the beetle).

However, defensively rupturing one’s own body — a process called autothysis, from the Greek words for “self” and “sacrifice” — is somewhat more unusual, and is known only in ants and termites, the scientists reported.

Tick, tick, boom!
The new ant species — Colobopsis explodens — was formerly called “yellow goo,” after the brightly colored gunk produced by its exploding worker ants. Their colonies can contain thousands of individuals, inhabiting the leafy canopies of trees that stand as tall as 197 feet (60 meters), and covering an area of at least 26,900 square feet (2,500 square meters), the study authors reported.

The researchers decided to make C. explodens a model species — one that scientists look at to draw conclusions about a larger group; in this case, exploding ants. They noted that C. explodens ants were “particularly prone to self-sacrifice” in the presence of threats — which included intruding researchers.

To blow themselves up, the reddish-brown minor workers — all sterile females — contracted a part of their abdomens called the gaster. They clenched it so tightly that it ruptured, spewing a yellow secretion that was manufactured in the ants’ jaw glands and had “a distinctive spice-like odor,” according to the study.

And suicidal explosions aren’t the only weird adaptation in C. explodens. Major workers — the bigger “soldier” ants that are also sterile females — have enlarged heads with raised shield-like sections that are circular and flattened at the top. The oddly shaped heads create a perfect plug that the ants use to temporarily block openings into their nests, the scientists wrote.

The findings were published online today (April 19) in the journal ZooKeys.

Original article on Live Science.

https://www.livescience.com/62354-exploding-ants-new-species.html?utm_source=notification

By MELISSA LOCKER

“Zombie-like” raccoons have taken over an Ohio town. This isn’t the inevitable re-boot of Night of the Living Dead, though, or another Walking Dead spin-off. Instead, it’s an eery invasion that has authorities looking for answers.

Police in Youngstown, Ohio, have responded to over a dozen calls from concerned humans who have spotted raccoons behaving very strangely, according to local news outlet WKBN. The raccoons were seen popping up onto their hind legs, baring their teeth, and then falling over in a comatose state. The animals weren’t easy to scare off, either, and seemed to have lost their natural fear of humans. If that wasn’t odd enough, the majority of the sightings and calls happened in the daytime even though raccoons are nocturnal.

Police received calls about 14 raccoons over the past three weeks, with some of the residents making the zombie comparison. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources said it doesn’t sound like rabies, but rather a disease called distemper. If this diagnosis is correct, distemper is not transmissible to humans, but can be spread to dogs who come in contact with zombie raccoons.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, distemper “attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems” of infected animals and symptoms include, “head tilt, muscle twitches … seizures, and partial or complete paralysis.” Unfortunately, the affected raccoons have to be captured and put down to prevent the disease from spreading further.

http://time.com/5229420/zombie-raccoons-ohio-police-reports/

BY BRUCE BOWER

People have evolved to sleep much less than chimps, baboons or any other primate studied so far.

A large comparison of primate sleep patterns finds that most species get somewhere between nine and 15 hours of shut-eye daily, while humans average just seven. An analysis of several lifestyle and biological factors, however, predicts people should get 9.55 hours, researchers reported recently in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. Most other primates in the study typically sleep as much as the scientists’ statistical models predict they should.

Two long-standing features of human life have contributed to unusually short sleep times, argue evolutionary anthropologists Charles Nunn of Duke University and David Samson of the University of Toronto Mississauga. First, when humans’ ancestors descended from the trees to sleep on the ground, individuals probably had to spend more time awake to guard against predator attacks. Second, humans have faced intense pressure to learn and teach new skills and to make social connections at the expense of sleep.

As sleep declined, rapid-eye movement, or REM — sleep linked to learning and memory (SN: 6/11/16, p. 15) — came to play an outsize role in human slumber, the researchers propose. Non-REM sleep accounts for an unexpectedly small share of human sleep, although it may also aid memory (SN: 7/12/14, p. 8), the scientists contend.

“It’s pretty surprising that non-REM sleep time is so low in humans, but something had to give as we slept less,” Nunn says.

Humans may sleep for a surprisingly short time, but Nunn and Samson’s sample of 30 species is too small to reach any firm conclusions, says evolutionary biologist Isabella Capellini of the University of Hull in England. Estimated numbers of primate species often reach 300 or more.

If the findings hold up, Capellini suspects that sleeping for the most part in one major bout per day, rather than in several episodes of varying durations as some primates do, substantially lessened human sleep time.

Nunn and Samson used two statistical models to calculate expected daily amounts of sleep for each species. For 20 of those species, enough data existed to estimate expected amounts of REM and non-REM sleep.

Estimates of all sleep times relied on databases of previous primate sleep findings, largely involving captive animals wearing electrodes that measure brain activity during slumber. To generate predicted sleep values for each primate, the researchers consulted earlier studies of links between sleep patterns and various aspects of primate biology, behavior and environments. For instance, nocturnal animals tend to sleep more than those awake during the day. Species traveling in small groups or inhabiting open habitats along with predators tend to sleep less.

Based on such factors, the researchers predicted humans should sleep an average of 9.55 hours each day. People today sleep an average of seven hours daily, and even less in some small-scale groups (SN: 2/18/17, p. 13). The 36 percent shortfall between predicted and actual sleep is far greater than for any other primate in the study.

Nunn and Samson estimated that people now spend an average of 1.56 hours of snooze time in REM, about as much as the models predict should be spent in that sleep phase. An apparent rise in the proportion of human sleep devoted to REM resulted mainly from a hefty decline in non-REM sleep, the scientists say. By their calculations, people should spend an average of 8.42 hours in non-REM sleep daily, whereas the actual figure reaches only 5.41 hours.

One other primate, South America’s common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus), sleeps less than predicted. Common marmosets sleep an average of 9.5 hours and also exhibit less non-REM sleep than expected. One species sleeps more than predicted: South America’s nocturnal three-striped night monkey (Aotus trivirgatus) catches nearly 17 hours of shut-eye every day. Why these species’ sleep patterns don’t match up with expectations is unclear, Nunn says. Neither monkey departs from predicted sleep patterns to the extent that humans do.

Citations
C.L. Nunn and D.R. Samson. Sleep in a comparative context: Investigating how human sleep differs from sleep in other primates. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. Published online February 14, 2018. doi:10.1002/ajpa.23427.

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/humans-primates-sleep-evolution

By Richard Kemeny

According to much of the scientific literature, dominance in social animals goes hand-in-hand with healthier lives. Yet leaders of the pack might not be healthier in all aspects, and according to a study published last week (February 26) in Scientific Reports, they are more at risk of parasite infection.

“While high-ranking animals often have the best access to food and mates, these advantages appear to come with strings attached,” says study coauthor Elizabeth Archie, a behavioral and disease ecologist at the University of Notre Dame, in an email to The Scientist. “These strings take the form of higher parasite exposure and susceptibility.”

Lower social status is usually linked to poorer health, according to previous studies. Animals towards the bottom of hierarchies have to struggle more for resources, and are often subjected to aggressive behavior from their superiors. In many species of birds, mice, and nonhuman primates, for instance, poorer physical condition is more common for subordinates. Female macaques of low social status, for example, have been shown to have lower bone density and an increased risk of developing inflammatory diseases.

Yet the relationship between social subordination and infectious disease risk hasn’t been clearly measured, according Archie and her coauthors. To look at the relationship between social status and one particular malady—parasite infections—they carried out a meta-analysis of 39 studies spanning 31 species, searching for patterns of parasitism.

In the majority of studies, those individuals in dominant positions—in particular, dominant males—were found to be more at risk of being infected. The effect was strongest in mammals, and in ordered hierarchical societies where social status is correlated with sexual activity.

These findings support two previous hypotheses about the links between social status and parasitism. One relates infection risk to resource access: exposure to infection is more common when animals feed and mate more. Dominant reindeer, for example, spend more time eating than subordinate individuals, and are more likely to become infected by nematodes. And greater sexual activity brings more risk of transmitted infections. Take, for instance, dominant feral cats, whose sexual proclivity increases the chances of developing Feline Immunodeficiency Virus.

The other hypothesis proposes a trade-off between reproductive effort and immunity to disease. In other words, those in dominant positions expend more energy on mating, and therefore invest less into costly immune defences.

“When you put it in the context [of these hypotheses], it does make a lot of sense,” says Jennifer Koop, a biologist at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, who was not involved in the study.

Archie doesn’t think that individuals will deliberately opt for lower status in order to avoid infection. “High status comes with so many other advantages that the cost of a few more parasites might not be enough for individuals to shun high social status,” she says.

It’s also conceivable that there are benefits to both parasite and host in this relationship, says Nicole Mideo, an evolutionary biologist at the Univeristy of Toronto, who was not involved in the study. “The parasites are exploiting the resources of the host, so if you have a host that doesn’t get access to much food, then the parasite isn’t going to get access to much food,” she says.

This study mostly focused on parasitic worms, a limitation the researchers want to expand beyond. Additionally, the toll on dominant animals’ health of the increased risk of parasite infections was not explored. Mideo explains that there could be subtle advantages here, as research has shown worms can alter immune systems, and might protect against other infections. “It’s entirely possible that having worm infections does confer some sort of advantage in the context of other potential diseases,” she says.

Habig et al., “Social status and parasitism in male and female vertebrates: a meta-analysis,” Scientific Reports, doi:10.1038/s41598-018-21994-7, 2018.

https://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/52003/title/Social-Dominance-Comes-At-a-Cost/


Germany’s Green Belt is one of Europe’s most unique open spaces: a once heavily militarized stretch of the Iron Curtain that’s now a natural wonderland filled with a variety of threatened animal species.

by Matt Hickman

Although the Berlin Wall came crashing down on Nov. 9, 1989, there’s another important milestone for a reunified Germany that was ushered in this month. As of Feb. 5, 2018, the heavily fortified concrete barrier that divided the German capital beginning in 1961 has now been down longer than it was up: 28 years, two months and 27 days.

That being said, it’s sometimes easy to forget that the physical and ideological divide between East and West wasn’t just limited to a famous 90-some-mile wall in Berlin.

Predating the Berlin Wall by 16 years and located nearly 100 miles east, the Inner German Border was the true physical manifestation of the Iron Curtain: a 870-mile frontier that ran the entire length of the divided country from the Baltic Sea in the north to the former Czechoslovakia in the south. On one side of this 650-foot-wide strip of land stood the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and on the other — just beyond an extensive network of dog runs, minefields, concrete watchtowers, bunkers, booby traps and forbidding electrified barbed wire fences — stood the German Democratic Republic (GDR), a communist dictatorship that remained firmly in the grasp of the Soviet Union until the dissolution of the Eastern Bloc.

Remnants of the “Death Strip” that once severed Germany still exist — so called because hundreds of East Germans perished while attempting to flee the GDR for less totalitarian pastures. Many of the old watchtowers, fortifications and short stretches of fence have been preserved. Here, history, no matter how painful, hasn’t been paved over and replaced with shopping malls and tract housing. And as such, the scars of a divided Germany remain. But what unusual and beautiful scars they are.

Almost the entirety of the Inner German Border has been reclaimed by Mother Nature as part of a sprawling wildlife reserve and outdoor recreation area known as Das Grüne Band — the Green Belt. Encompassing large swaths of undisturbed countryside and farmland in addition to the border zone, in some ways the Green Belt — often described as a “living monument to reunification” and a “memory landscape” — remains a no man’s land given that a wide variety of plants and animals, many rare and endangered, positively rule.


Germany’s Green Belt isn’t entirely continuous. However, most of this exclusion zone-turned-wildlife haven remains in a near-natural state.

From ‘death zone into a lifeline’

Rich in biodiversity and largely unhampered by 21st century human development, the Green Belt is a project of German environmental group Bund Naturschutz (BUND) that dates back to 1989. However, work had begun on the non-fortified western side of the border zone much earlier after conservationists noticed that this woeful place was also a wildlife magnet. “The division of Germany was a travesty that robbed people of their freedom, but a positive side effect was the way the sealed border allowed nature to flourish,” Eckhard Selz, a park ranger hailing from the former East Germany, explained to the Guardian in 2009.

In a 2017 NBC News profile, conservationist Kai Frobel, considered by many to be the father of the Green Belt, explained that “nature essentially has been given a 40-year holiday” in the erstwhile border area, which itself has been transformed from a “death zone into a lifeline.”

“When we grew up in this area, we all thought that this monster of a border line had been built for eternity,” 58-year-old Frobel says of his teenage years spent as a budding conservationist hailing from Colburg, a Bavarian town located on the western side of the border but largely surrounded by the GDR. “No one, really no one, believed in German reunification at the time.”

When the Iron Curtain collapsed, Frobel and his fellow conservationists, including many from the former East Germany, rushed to protect and preserve the border zone. The worry was that the largely untouched area would give way to roads, housing and massive commercial farming operations — a “brown belt,” if you will. Vital wildlife habitats just recently discovered would be lost.

With governmental backing, the Green Belt became the first German nature conservation project to involve parties from both sides of a nation that had just been fused back together. Decades later, an impressive 87 percent of the Green Belt, which passes through nine of Germany’s 16 states, remains in an undeveloped or near-natural state. While there are some gaps in this unusually elongated wildlife refuge, BUND is continually working to restore them and prevent other sections from giving way to development.

“You will find no other place in Germany with the richness of habitats and species that the Green Belt provides,” Frobel tells NBC News.


A Cold War era concrete watchtower still stands along the eastern section of what was once the notorious Inner German Border.

The one upside of a nation-dividing no man’s land

In October of last year, Frobel, along with Inge Sielman and Hubert Weiger, were awarded the German government’s top environmental prize for their tireless work preserving and protecting the old Inner German Border and environs. (The trio received a combined 245,00 euros or roughly $284,300.)

As Deutsche Welle explains, the Green Belt’s dual function as a historical site and wildlife refuge is more vital today than ever. Many animals, forced to seek out new habitats due to encroaching development in outlying areas of the German countryside, are flocking to the protected area in record numbers.

“The Green Belt is now home to countless natural wonders that have been crowded out in other areas,” German President Frank-Walter Steinmeir explained at October’s Germany Environmental Prize ceremony, held in the city of Brunswick.


Tranquil, sobering and biologically diverse, the Green Belt is popular amongst hikers, cyclists, birders and history buffs alike.

In total, conservationists believe the Green Belt to be home to upwards of 1,200 plant and animal species that are endangered or near-extinct in Germany, including the lady’s slipper orchid, the Eurasian otter, wildcats and the European tree frog. The Green Belt also hosts a large number of rare and threatened birds such as the black stork.
“We discovered that over 90 percent of the bird species that were rare or highly endangered in Bavaria — such as the whinchat, the corn bunting and the European nightjar — could be found in the Green Belt. It became a final retreat for many species, and it still is today,” Frobel tells Deutsche Welle.

One less rare species found in growing abundance throughout the Green Zone are tourists. Germany has long touted the region as a sustainable “soft” tourism hotspot, particularly in recent years. Laced with hiking trails and dotted with nature viewing areas along with a fair number of memorials, museums, quaint villages and a handful of crumbling leftovers from the Cold War era, the Green Zone passes through already tourism-friendly nature regions including the Franconian and Thuringian forests, the Harz Mountains and the verdant floodplain of the river Elbe.

In addition to local conservation groups, a number of local tourism authorities are working alongside BUND to promote the natural splendors of the once inaccessible border region. “Numerous cycling and hiking trails along the Green Belt connect special points of experience and information,” reads the Green Belt tourism page. “You can see cranes and northern geese from observation ramparts, conquer castles and palaces, descend into diminutive mining pits, climb border towers, dart along old border trails in the dark, or be inspired by works of art.”


With informative signs guiding the way and pointing out important sights, the Green Belt is described as a ‘memory landscape.

A model for something much bigger

Of course, Germany wasn’t the only country cracked by the Iron Curtain.

For nearly four decades, the entire European continent was split between East and West with little movement between the two sides. And much like the heralded conservation area that’s flourishing in a once-divided Deutschland, the European Green Belt Initiative aims to protect biodiversity along the line of former Iron Curtain but on a much more ambitious scale.

Stretching from the Barents Sea on the Russian/Norwegian border and along the Baltic coast before cutting through the heart of Central Europe and terminating at the Adriatic and Black seas, the 7,500-mile European Green Belt links 24 individual countries through a winding necklace of national parks, nature preserves and other protected areas.

As in Germany, many of these European border regions were largely restricted/avoided during their existence. And so, wildlife moved in and flourished in relative solitude.

“Unwittingly, the once-divided Europe encouraged the conservation and development of valuable habitats. The border area served as a retreat for many endangered species,” explains the European Green Belt website.

Founded in 2003 and very much modeled on the work of BUND in Germany, the European Green Belt Initiative is a burgeoning grassroots movement comprised of around 150 governmental and non-governmental conservation organizations hailing from a diverse number of countries.

And in addition to inspiring a band of protected wilderness that bisects the European continent, the many successes of Germany’s Green Belt have also inspired South Korean officials to reach out to Frobel and his colleagues and discuss ways that the Korean Demilitarized Zone could some day (emphasis on some day) be transformed into a protected wildlife area.

“Conservationists are already preparing a so-called Green Belt Korea, and are in close consultation with us,” Frobel told Deutsche Welle in a 2017 interview with Deutsch Welle. He points out that the Korean Demilitarized Zone, home to “a well-preserved biodiverse habitat,” is the “only region in the world that can be compared with Germany before 1989.”

“They are using Germany’s Green Belt as its model for when reunification comes — even though the situation doesn’t look too good at the moment,” says Frobel.

https://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/wilderness-resources/blogs/germany-nation-dividingdeath-zone-reimagined-nature-reserve