Former Iron Curtain may become continent-spanning greenbelt

The fabled Iron Curtain that separated Western Europe from the communist countries of Eastern Europe was once one of the most dangerous places on earth. But in the post-Cold War era, a coalition of conservation and community-development groups has ambitious plans to transform it into a string of parks, nature preserves, and organic farms. Already parks exist in Germany, between Finland and Russia, and between Austria and the Czech Republic and Hungary. Though there’s resistance from governments that aren’t quite yet chummy — say, Greece and Macedonia — and farmers that chafe at organic restrictions, organizers envision a grassroots, largely voluntary effort involving both public and privately owned land. “The idea is to interlink the needs of people and nature, because they’re not incompatible,” says Andrew Terry of the World Conservation Union, which is coordinating the project. “Protected areas should be places that allow humans and wildlife to live together.”