US Army Project Creates Critical Habitat for European Bats
A five-year U.S. Army project to create critical habitat for bats will clear brush and plant fruit trees in Germany’s Hohenfels Military Training Area.
The project, funded by the European Union, will see some 3,000 acres — more than 7 percent of the training area — cleared to open flight corridors and the addition of fruit trees in some areas in hopes of attracting insects.
As critical habitats disappeared, military training areas — disconnected from pressures of development and public use — have become refuges to some of Europe’s most threatened plant and animal species.
At the Hohenfels Military Training Area in Bavaria, researchers have counted 19 bat species, including the greater horseshoe bat which has been reduced to a single breeding colony in Germany.
The colony, discovered inside an abandoned farmhouse in the town of Hohenburg on the northern border of the training area, flies out every evening to feed on the grounds, one of the few areas left that is free of pesticides.
Besides benefiting the bats, Army trainers are happy to clear some of the vegetation which has grown over some areas and has left less room to run exercises.
Years of low impact counterinsurgency infantry training have allowed woody shrubs to overtake areas once kept clear by intense tank heavy training that occurred during the cold war era.
U.S. Army Europe manages 27 training areas in Europe, all but one of which are located in Germany.
Army project to benefit endangered bats [Stars and Stripes]