Curtain Call of the Wild
The man who cleared the way for the lifting of the Iron Curtain now wants to transform the former cold war border region into a large, multinational nature reserve. Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, now president of the environmental group Green Cross International, has joined with a number of European conservation organizations in pushing for preservation of the land that once separated the Soviet bloc from the West. Forty years of cold war tensions kept the border area free of people, allowing plants and animals to thrive; it’s now the longest tract of undeveloped land in central Europe, stretching from Finland in the north to the Adriatic Sea in the south. At a recent conference in Bonn, Germany, representatives of all the former border nations gathered to discuss the feasibility of the park plan. Germany is farthest along in making a border reserve a reality; other countries are still in the early phases of planning.