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Germany: Environmental ‘Dinosaur of the Year’ award goes to Emden’s project

  • December 27, 2021

The German nature association NABU on Monday presented its critical “Dinosaur of the Year” award for 2021 to a residential construction project in Emden planned on a large marshland area that it considers to be of particular ecological value.  

NABU particularly criticized Emden for planning to exploit a largely protected area for housing construction despite having a stagnating population.  

What problem is being highlighted?

In an online press conference, the president of NABU, Jörg-Andreas Krüger, criticized the fact that large swaths of open space in Germany are still being taken over for housing, transport and commercial purposes, despite there being so little. He said it was necessary to build more densely on areas that were already in use instead.

“Open space is in low supply in Germany,” he said. “In this way,” he added, “Emden is everywhere in Germany.”

Krüger said that building on these spaces meant less room for agriculture, forestry and the preservation of ecosystems.

In 2019, the Federal Statistical Office noted that 52 hectares (128 acres) of greenfield land was built on every day in Germany, on average. The last German government wanted to reduce this area to 30 hectares by 2030 and the new one intends to get down to none at all by 2050.

Krüger called for this goal to be reached more quickly: “We need this in the next 10 years.” He praised the western state of Rhineland-Palatinate for already using less than 1 hectare a day for new construction.

‘Hands off this valuable green area’: The building plans have faced some protest

Environmentally damaging

NABU’s Jan Schürings also pointed out that the Emden “Conrebbersweg” project would cause additional environmental damage, as the 77-hectare (190-acre) area was home to 14 endangered plant species, along with a number of bird species.

The Emden city council has defended its project, with a spokesman saying that the city needed more construction space to keep young families in the area. He said the residential area was designed to be climate-friendly, with many houses receiving solar panels and all heating coming from non-fossil-fuel sources.

The “Dinosaur” prize has been awarded since 1993 to projects, managers and politicians that NABU considers to be out-of-date in an environmental regard.

tj/aw (dpa, epd)

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