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GREENNET – Promoting the ecological network in the European Green Belt

The University of Applied Sciences Erfurt works in cooperation with 11 partners from 6 European countries (AT, CZ, DE, IT, SI, SK) on the CENTRAL EUROPE-project “GREENNET - Promoting the ecological network in the European Green Belt”. The University is represented by the departments “Landscape planning” and “Transport policy and spatial planning”.

The green belt developed from the wasteland of the former death strip along the iron curtain over decades to a green life line. This is a success story.

So why is there a project GREENNET?

The idea of the GREENNET-project results from the former GREENBELT-project (Interreg III B CADSES). GREENBELT highlighted the ecological most valuable areas. As one result it was recognized, that the gaps in the green belt cover more than 50%. These gaps are not protected and are subject to adverse effects.

Consequently the emphasis of GREENNET lays on developing and reestablishing an ecological network, covering these gaps.

A gap in the Green Belt, photo: Klaus Leidorf
A gap in the Green Belt, photo: Klaus Leidorf

Ecological networks are central to nature protection. They connect habitats by migration corridors, stepping stones and buffer zones for isolated and endangered species and biological diversity in general. They are also increasingly important in times of climate change and ongoing fragmentation of landscapes and intensive land use, which is the main factor for the decline of biodiversity. Ecological networks help to ensure ecosystem services and are therefore an investment into the future.

An ecological network is the aim, but how do we reach it? Many facts and needs are well known for decades. But why have large efficient ecological networks not been established so far? Do we have the right instruments for nature conservation, landscape and spatial planning? Which instruments, methods and strategies are being used by our neighbor countries? How can private and public stakeholders on a local, regional, national and transnational level be engaged, so that they can benefit from the European Green Belt?

The idea of the green belt with its ecological, historical and human dimension offers not only a chance to develop and conserve a unique ecological network through Europe, but also to develop peripheral border regions in a new sustainable way and bring people together from both sides of the former border.

To learn from each other and exchange experiences in the field of effective spatial policy instruments is a major part in this process.

Excursion of the international working group to the Austrian-Hungarian Green Belt in June 2011; photo: Stanislava Dešnik
Excursion of the international working group to the Austrian-Hungarian Green Belt in June 2011; photo: Stanislava Dešnik

Pilot region “Grabfeld”

The Grabfeld is a rural area at the inner German Thuringian-Bavarian border and one of the 5 pilot regions within the GREENNET-project.

The Green Belt in the Thuringian part can be predominantly experienced with its rare great burnet-meadows, its grove structures, the elsewhere almost extinct bush cricket and diverse border constructions of the former death strip.

Due to comparatively fertile grounds, the belt is subject to utilization pressure and shows considerable gaps.

This former border watch tower near Irmelshausen is now a public accessibly look-out at the Green Belt. photo: Ilke Marschall
This former border watch tower near Irmelshausen is now a public accessibly look-out at the Green Belt. photo: Ilke Marschall

The different potentials and gaps in the Green Belt area illustrate the complexity of the approaches for protection and development of the Green Belt. Main aim of the project is to show and develop effective instruments and strategies to bridge the gaps within the Green Belt by preserving and developing a unique ecological European network. Hereby also the regional strength of this structurally weak region will be improved.

The Green Belt is a living monument. It offers a habitat system for a rare and endangered species. It is also an attractive site for ecotourism and can help strengthening the local identity.

The GREENNET-project can support the potentials and raise the acceptance of the Green Belt by local and regional partners and stakeholders.


more information


Pictures and impressions from the 1st GreenNet conference: The Green Belt as an European Ecological Network - strength and gaps


Proceedings of the 1st GreenNet Conference: The Green Belt as a European Ecological Network - strengths and gaps


Proceedings: 2nd scientific GreenNet conference: How to push the implementation of the European Green Belt by landscape policy instruments



Proceedings of the 3rd scientific & final GreenNet conference - Perspectives for biological & cultural diversity along the European Green Belt - Good examples, successful measures & new ideas



Lead partner:

Association for Rural Development Thuringia, Germany

Project partners:

BUND-Project Office Green Belt; Friends of the Earth Germany, Nuremberg
Austrian Institute for Nature Protection and Landscape Ecology Styria
Ametyst – Environmental Protection Association, Pilzen (Czech Republic)
Regional Environmental Center, Country office Slovakia (REC Slovakia)
C.E.T.A.-Centre for Theoretical and Applied Ecology, Italy
University of Applied Sciences, Erfurt, Germany
University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria
Nature Park Goricko, Grad, Slovenia
Austrian Leage of Nature Conservation Lower Austria, Vienna, Austria
Regional Management Burgenland GmbH, Pinkafeld, Austria


This project is implemented through the CENTRAL EUROPE Programme cofinanced by the ERDF.

© 2007-2015



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