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Germany: Emden receives the Environmental ‘Dinosaur of the Years’ award

Germany: Emden receives the Environmental ‘Dinosaur of the Years’ award

Banner reading 'Hands off this valuable green area' at the Conrebbersweg site

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 specifically criticised Emden for using a largely protected area to build housing despite having a stagnating populace.  

What problem is being highlighted

In an online press conference, the president of NABU, Jrg-Andreas Krger, criticized the fact that large swaths of open space in Germany were still being taken over for housing, transport or commercial purposes, despite there being so little of it. He stated that it was better to build densely in areas that are already being used.

He stated that Germany has a low supply of open space and added: “In this manner, Emden is everywhere in Germany.”

Krger stated that if you build on these spaces, there is less space for agriculture, forestry, and 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.

Krger urged for this goal to become more urgent: “We need it in the next ten years.” He praised Rhineland-Palatinate, the western state that has used less than one hectare per day for new construction.

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“Hands off the valuable green area”: Some protests have been raised against the building plans.

It is environmentally harmful

NABU’s Jan Schrings 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 different bird species.

Emden’s city council has supported its project. A spokesperson for the city stated that it needed more construction space to support young families. He stated that the residential area was climate-friendly and many homes would receive solar panels. All heating will be from non-fossil fuel sources.

The “Dinosaur” prize has been awarded since 1993 for projects, managers or politicians that NABU considers to be out of date in an environmental regard.

tj/aw (dpa, epd)

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