From Devastation to Recreation

For over two centuries, intense coal mining has ravaged the pastoral landscape of Eastern Germany, transforming the Lusatia region into a harsh, toxic wasteland.

But now another transformation is taking place, as Germany moves to shut down its remaining coal mines, heal the scarred landscape and return it to the people.

Since the late 90’s, the government has spent billions of euros to flood the mine pits and turn them into clean, swimmable lakes with imported sand for beaches.

Some land has been leased out for solar and wind farms while elsewhere, vineyards are flourishing.

Wildlife is returning as wolves and deer are often seen around the edges of the replanted, burgeoning young forests, along with birds and butterflies.

Fish fill the waters as do the people in what is now Europe’s largest artificial lake, stretching 50 miles across the states of Saxony and Brandenburg.

24 smaller lakes are connected by canals and a cycle network, providing venues for swimming, sailing, scuba diving, fishing, horse riding, and biking.

Repairing this scorched earth has turned Lusatia into a tourist hot-spot, with over 800 thousand visitors annually, reaping a financial win for Germany and a healthy win for the planet.