The German Green Belt: Lessons from the Collapse of the Inner German Border and Potential Applications to the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)

Authors: Sunghan Hwang*, Woosuk University, Joseph Henderson*, Georgia Gwinnett College
Topics: Military Geography, Land Use, Planning Geography
Keywords: German Green Belt, Demilitarized Zone, Korea, land use
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2020
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 5:55 PM
Room: Governors Square 12, Sheraton, Concourse Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The removal of the barriers along the Inner German Border after the fall of the Soviet Union left a “no-mans land” with no initial land-use plan for development or protection. Plans for preservation of the former border area, dubbed the Green Belt, were only initiated one month after the opening of the Berlin Wall. The idea for the Green Belt was to preserve the natural, cultural and historical significance of the area and to promote related tourism. An organization called Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) spearheaded the effort, and it was eventually endorsed and funded by major political leaders. The Korean DMZ is analogous to the militarized German border area before the unification of East and West Germany. Although the Korean DMZ is still heavily fortified and re-unification between North and South Korea is still in question, much effort has gone into planning for the DMZ in a post-unification scenario. However, no consensus has been reached between the two Koreas in this jointly occupied frontier because of tensions over military confrontation and political differences. Nonetheless, unlike the situation with the German Green Belt, where inventories of the ecosystems occurred after the wall fell, scientists have already been conducting extensive inventories, particularly on the margins of the Southern portion of the DMZ. Having a forward-looking approach to the DMZ’s preservation and development will hopefully ensure a more seamless transition of the Korean DMZ to a demilitarized state, using the lessons learned from the development of the Inner German Border area.

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