IMCOM-Europe signs environmental agreement
November 7, 2008
BAUMHOLDER, Germany - Protecting the environment is taken seriously in Germany and other European communities.
Accordingly, on her first visit to U.S. Army Garrison Baumholder, Diane Devens, director of Installation Management Command-Europe, met with representatives of the state of Rheinland Pfalz and the German federal government to sign an agreement that affirms the commitment U.S. forces have in abiding by German and European Union environmental protection guidelines.
Representing the state of Rheinland Pfalz was Margit Conrad, minister of the environment. The German federal government was represented by Karl Diller, parliamentary state secretary for the federal ministry of finance.
"I am privileged to witness the signing, and participate in the signing, of this historical agreement between Rheinland Pfalz and the Federal Republic of Germany for nature and landscape protection on military accommodations used by our forces," said Devens. "This agreement is instrumental in achieving our goals."
Natura 2000 is a European Union-wide network of nature protection areas established under the 1992 Habitats Directive. The network strives to ensure the long-term survival of Europe's threatened species and habitats.
Closer to home, hundreds of flora and fauna species not found anywhere else are thriving on Baumholder's military training area. These are but a few of the environmental treasures the German government and the European Union are striving to protect under the Natura 2000 umbrella.
"The protection of partly endangered species and their habitats have been and always will be a special emphasis to us," said Devens.
"Our gathering today clearly demonstrates the invaluable cooperation between the U.S. military forces, the Federal Republic of Deutschland, and the state of Rheinland Pfalz," Devens said. "Further, it demonstrates the importance the U. S. forces places on the protection of a shared environment."
Normally, one would not readily associate a military training area with a place where endangered flora and fauna flourish but that is indeed the case on Baumholder's military training area.
Devens listed a couple of contributing factors for the unusual occurrence. Most military training areas are fenced and limit trespassing that could damage the environment. Not using pesticides and fertilizers also helps wildlife thrive in its natural environment. This and other reasons allow for many species to thrive on the military training area here.
"We were aware that our military reservations have a high ecological value," said Devens. "Therefore we were not completely surprised when we learned that the German states identified military sites for inclusion in the European Union Natura 2000 effort."
"Frankly," she added, "we were concerned that the decision to include our sites in the Natura 2000 nominations could result in large breeding insurgence and impede the required flexibility to adjust to training needs. Our concerns proved unfounded."
The IMCOM-Europe director noted that such training of Soldiers "has never been as crucial as now."
"We must train to fight and win the global war on terrorism," she said. "Our goal is to accomplish effective military training and continue to provide quality facilities to meet mission requirements, and meet Natura 2000 protection requirements."