Bombs and biodiversity
I was interested in the Salisbury Plain article (Wildlife in a War Zone, April 2018), because it brought back to me memories of my visits in the late 1990s to the garrisons at Fallingbostel and Hohne in Germany when I was a Territorial Army (TA) padre. In the surrounding area (a part of Lüneburg Heath) were the ranges used by the British Army for live artillery and tank firing. We were preparing the process of handing back the area to the local community and a series of public lectures revealed that the Heath was thriving.
Experts concluded the presence and activities of the Army had preserved and enhanced an important wildlife habitat, with some insects and plants returning after decades of absence, not to mention the increased sightings of birds.
The big concern facing the local authority was what would happen when the ranges were handed back, as the only human impact had been that of the shells. The task facing conservationists was how were they going to ensure that this precious habitat would not be lost.
Unfortunately, I have not been able to return to the area since retiring from the TA in 2000. However, my daughter and family live outside Frankfurt so hopefully I may be able to visit in the near future and see just how the Heath is faring. John Thomson, via email
Features editor Ben Hoare replies: I’m glad you enjoyed the feature. Many other MoD sites are good for wildlife, including Lulworth Ranges in Dorset and Castlemartin Training Area in Wales.
Army ranges can make great wildlife habitats for a range of species.