Conservation: Manage military land for the environment

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A refocus on managing military training grounds for their value to the environment as well as to the armed forces would drastically increase the global terrestrial 'protected area' at minimal cost (see J. E. M. Watson et al. Nature 515, 6773; 2014).

We estimate that training areas total at least 50 million hectares, with the actual figure probably closer to 300 million hectares (R. Zentelis and D. Lindenmayer Conserv. Lett., in the press). These areas encompass all major global ecosystems, including those poorly represented within formal reserve systems. In the Western world, at least, their management is already funded through military expenditure.

Many examples highlight the value of such areas. They support the majority of Germany's wolf packs, and in Australia they contain some of the best remaining threatened coastal heathland. Regardless of one's view of the military, the armed forces manage a huge area of land that, until now, has not been recognized as an important funded conservation resource.

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  1. Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.

    • Rick Zentelis &
    • David Lindenmayer

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  1. Report this comment #64589

    Jean SmilingCoyote said:

    I heartily second the motion. The possession of large areas of contiguous land, without inholdings, and the need, willingness, and ability to maintain border security, provide these great opportunities to include the local ecosystems in what the military is defending.

  2. Report this comment #64591

    Sean Gleason said:

    This assumes that military lands are not being managed for conservation, nor has the conservation value of these lands been recognized until now. What evidence is there to support this claim? Just because lands are used for military training does not preclude other contributions.

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