Advertisement

The Conflict Landscape of Verdun, France: Conserving Cultural and Natural Heritage After WWI

  • Rémi de Matos MachadoEmail author
  • Joseph P. Hupy
Chapter
Part of the Landscape Series book series (LAEC, volume 25)

Abstract

Known to have been the scene of one of the greatest battles of history, the battlefield of Verdun (France) is now a vast forest area of 10,000 ha. Created in the aftermath of the World War One, the forest of Verdun is the result of a long process led by the state since the 1920s. Formerly used to reconstitute damaged land, the forest has many functions today, including that of a place of memory, which draw nearly 250,000 visitors each year. The forest of Verdun also constitutes a high environmental value site, featuring a large mosaic of environments and a remarkable range of flora and fauna. Thanks to a LiDAR mission conducted in 2013 within the “Forêt d’exception®” project, nearly 115 km2 of woodland were surveyed, allowing the National Forests Office (ONF) to reconstruct 3-D topography of the battlefield and map hundreds of kilometers of trenches and thousands of shelters still visible despite the century that had passed since the war. The revegetated forest land cover has helped to maintain the underlying scars on the landscape. After outlining the major phases of restoration of the Verdun battlefield, this chapter explores the links between the geomorphological traces left by WWI and present-day biodiversity in the forest of Verdun.

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Stéphanie Jacquemot of the DRAC Grand Est – Regional Archaeology Department, Gersende Gérard, Gérald Colin, René-Marc Pineau, and Juliette Foltier of the National Forests Office of Verdun, for LiDAR data of the Verdun forest. We also thank Gilles Arnaud-Fassetta and François Bétard – University Paris-Diderot, for their useful and constructive remarks which helped to improve the manuscript.

References

  1. Amat, J. P. (2015). Les forêts de la Grande Guerre: histoire, mémoire, patrimoine. Paris: Presses de l’Université Paris-Sorbonne.Google Scholar
  2. Amat, J. P., Filippucci, P., & Savouret, E. (2015). ‘The cemetery of France’: Reconstruction and memorialisation on the battlefield of Verdun (France). In M. L. Sørensen & D. Viejo-Rose (Eds.), War and cultural heritage (pp. 46–68). New York: Biographies of place. Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bagnold, R. A. (1990). Sand, wind, and war: memoirs of a desert explorer. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bailey, J. B. A. (2004). Field artillery and firepower. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bausinger, T., & Preuß, J. (2005). Environmental remnants of the First World War: Soil contamination of a burning ground for arsenical ammunition. Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 74, 1045–1052.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s00128-005-0686-z.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Bausinger, T., Bonnaire, E., & Preuß, J. (2007). Exposure assessment of a burning ground for chemical ammunition on the Great War battlefields of Verdun. Science of the Total Environment, 382, 259–271.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2007.04.029.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Bernède, A. (2002). Verdun 1916: le point de vue français. Le Mans: Éditions Cénomane.Google Scholar
  8. Brandt, S. (1994). Le voyage aux champs de bataille. Vingtième Siècle, revue d’histoire, 41, 18–22.  https://doi.org/10.3406/xxs.1994.3262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brauer, J. (2009). War and nature: The environmental consequences of war in a globalized world. Lanham: AltaMira Press.Google Scholar
  10. Chase, A. F., Chase, D. Z., Weishampel, J. F., et al. (2011). Airborne LiDAR, archaeology, and the ancient Maya landscape at Caracol, Belize. Journal of Archaeological Science, 38, 387–398.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2010.09.018.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Closmann, C. E. (Ed.). (2009). War and the environment. College Station: Military destruction in the modern Age. Texas A&M University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Clout, H. D. (1993). The revival of rural Lorraine after the Great War. Geografiska Annaler, 75B(2), 73–91. https://doi.org/10.2307/490701.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cowley, R. (2004). The unreal city: the trenches of World War I. In J. M. Morris (Ed.), Readings in American military history (pp. 187–198). Upper Saddle River: Pearson/Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  14. De Matos Machado, R., Amat, J. P., Arnaud-Fassetta, G., & Bétard, F. (2016). Potentialités de l’outil LiDAR pour cartographier les vestiges de la Grande Guerre en milieu intra-forestier (bois des Caures, forêt domaniale de Verdun, Meuse). EchoGéo 38 [online].  https://doi.org/10.4000/echogeo.14791.
  15. De Matos Machado, R., Toumazet, J. P., Bergès, J. C., Amat, J. P., Arnaud-Fassetta, G., Bétard, F., Bilodeau, C., Hupy, J. P., & Jacquemot, S. (2019). War landform mapping and classification on the Verdun battlefield (France) using airborne LiDAR and multivariate analysis. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 44(7), 1430–1448.  https://doi.org/10.1002/esp.4586.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Georges-Leroy, M., Bock, J., Dambrine, E., & Dupouey, J. L. (2011). Apport du lidar à la connaissance de l’histoire de l’occupation du sol en forêt de Haye. ArchéoSciences, 35, 117–129.  https://doi.org/10.4000/archeosciences.3015.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gudmundsson, B. I. (1993). On artillery. Westport: Praeger.Google Scholar
  18. Hogg, I. V. (1985). The illustrated history of ammunition. Secaucus: Chartwell Books.Google Scholar
  19. Hogg, I. V. (1987). The illustrated encyclopedia of artillery. Secaucus: Chartwell Books.Google Scholar
  20. Holstein, C. (2002). Fort Douaumont: Verdun. Barnsley: Pen & Sword.Google Scholar
  21. Horne, A. (1993). The price of glory. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  22. Hubé, D. (2016). Sur les traces d’un secret enfoui: enquête sur l’héritage toxique de la Grande Guerre. Paris: Michalon.Google Scholar
  23. Hupy, J. P. (2005). Assessing landscape disturbance and recovery across a WWI battlefield: Verdun, France. Dissertation: Michigan State University.Google Scholar
  24. Hupy, J. P. (2006). The long-term effects of explosive munitions on the WWI battlefield surface of Verdun, France. Scottish Geographical Journal, 122(3), 167–184. https://doi.org/10.1080/00369220618737264.Google Scholar
  25. Hupy, J. P. (2011). Khe Sanh, Vietnam: Examining the long-term impacts of warfare on the physical landscape. In E. Palka & F. Galgano (Eds.), Modern military geography (pp. 312–326). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  26. Hupy, J. P., & Schaetzl, R. J. (2008). Soil development on the WWI battlefield of Verdun, France. Geoderma, 145(1), 37–49. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoderma.2008.01.024.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Ilyès, Z. (2006). Military activities: Warfare and defense. In J. Szabo, L. David, & D. Loczy (Eds.), Anthropogenic geomorphology: A guide to man-made landforms (pp. 217–231). Dordrecht: Springer.  https://doi.org/10.1007/978-90-481-3058-0.Google Scholar
  28. Jacquemot, S., & Legendre, J. P. (Eds.). (2011). Vestiges de guerres en Lorraine: le patrimoine des conflits mondiaux. Metz: Éditions Serpenoise.Google Scholar
  29. Joly, H. (1911). Géographie physique de la Lorraine et de ses enveloppes. Nancy: Albert Barbier.Google Scholar
  30. Joly, D., Brossard, T., Cardot, H., et al. (2010). Les types de climats en France, une construction spatiale. Cybergéo: European Journal of Geography, Cartographie, Imagerie, SIG.  https://doi.org/10.4000/cybergeo.23155.
  31. Jünger, E. (1961). In Stahlgewittern. 2. Bände. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta.Google Scholar
  32. Keegan, J. (1993). A history of warfare. New York: Vintage.Google Scholar
  33. Keegan, J. (1998). The First World War. New York: Vintage.Google Scholar
  34. Košir, U., Mlekuž, D., & Črešnar, M. (2015). The use of modern technologies for documenting and interpreting conflict landscapes. Case study of the Bovec Area (Posočje Region, Slovenia). In A. Jankovič Potočnik, M. Zupančič, & A. Marn (Eds.), Handbook of typical historic technologies of fortress constructions (pp. 62–68). Ljubljana: Saving of European cultural heritage fortified monuments in Central Europe. Zavod za varstvo kulturne dediščine Slovenije.Google Scholar
  35. Malte-Brun, V. A. (1845). Précis de la géographie universelle. Paris: Imprimerie de Bourgogne et Martinez.Google Scholar
  36. Martin, W. (2001). Verdun 1916: ‘They shall not pass’. Oxford: Osprey Publishing.Google Scholar
  37. Masson-Loodts, I. (2014). Paysages en batailles. Les séquelles environnementales de la Grande Guerre. Brussels: Éditions Nevicata.Google Scholar
  38. Meerschman, E., Cockx, L., Monirul Islam, M., et al. (2011). Geostatistical assessment of the impact of World War I on the spatial occurrence of soil heavy metals. Ambio, 40, 417–424.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-010-0104-6.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Michelin travel guide. (1919). The Battle of Verdun 1914–1918. Clermont-Ferrand: Michelin & Cie.Google Scholar
  40. Millarakis, P., & Wagner, I. (1999). Étude de la végétation de la forêt domaniale de Verdun. Verdun: Office National des Forêts (ONF).Google Scholar
  41. Office National des Forêts. (2005). Forêt domaniale de Verdun. Révision d’aménagement forestier 2006–2020. Verdun: Office National des Forêts (ONF).Google Scholar
  42. Opitz, R. S., & Cowley, D. C. (Eds.). (2013). Interpreting archaeological topography: Airborne laser scanning. 3D data and ground observation. Oxford: Oxbow books.Google Scholar
  43. Ousby, I. (2002). The road to Verdun: World War I’s most momentous battle and the folly of nationalism. New York: Doubleday.Google Scholar
  44. Parent, G.H. (2004). Trois études sur la zone rouge de Verdun, une zone totalement sinistrée. I. L’herpétofaune. II. La diversité floristique. III. Les sites d’intérêt botanique et zoologique à protéger prioritairement. Ferrantia, Travaux scientifiques du Musée national d’histoire naturelle de Luxembourg. https://ps.mnhn.lu/ferrantia/publications/Ferrantia38.pdf.
  45. Prestidge, O. (2013). Forêt de guerre: Natural remembrances of the Great War. Exchanges: The Warwick Research Journal, 1(1), 16–34.Google Scholar
  46. Rey, F. (2003). Influence of vegetation distribution on sediment yield in forested marly gullies. Catena, 50, 549–562.  https://doi.org/10.1016/S0341-8162(02)00121-2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Rose, E. P. F., & Nathanail, C. P. (Eds.). (2000). Geology and warfare: Examples of the influence of terrain and geologists on military operations. Bath: Geological Society.Google Scholar
  48. Schnitzler, B., & Landolt, M. (Eds.). (2013). À l’est, du nouveau ! Archéologie de la Grande Guerre en Alsace et en Lorraine. Strasbourg: Éditions des Musées de la Ville de Strasbourg.Google Scholar
  49. Service Historique de l’État Major de l’armée. (n.d.). Journal des marches et opérations du 56 ème bataillon de chasseurs à pied pendant la campagne du 2 août 1914 au 6 juillet 1916. Paris: État Major de l’Armée (EMA), Imprimerie-Librairie Universelle Laurent Fournier.Google Scholar
  50. Souvent, P., & Pirc, S. (2001). Pollution caused by metallic fragments introduced into soils because of World War I activities. Environmental Geology, 40(3), 317–323. https://doi.org/10.1007/s002540000156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Tillon, L., Raynaud, J.-C., Le Roux, M., & Darnis, T. (2017). Programme « Forêt d’exception » : inventaire des chiroptères, forêts domaniales de Verdun et de Morthomme (55). Paris: ONF Réseau Mammifères.Google Scholar
  52. Van Meirvenne, M., Meklit, T., Verstraete, S., et al. (2008). Could shelling in the First World War have increased copper concentrations in the soil around Ypres? European Journal of Soil Science, 59, 372–379.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2389.2007.01014.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Webster, D. (1994). The soldiers moved on. The war moved on. The bombs stayed. Smithsonian, 24(11), 26–37.Google Scholar
  54. Westing, A. H. (1972). The cratering of Indochina. Scientific American, 226(5), 21–29.  https://doi.org/10.1038/scientificamerican0572-20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Westing, A. H. (1980). Warfare in a fragile world: Military impact on the human environment. London: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  56. Winters, H. A., Galloway, G. E., Jr., Reynolds, W. J., & Rhyne, D. W. (1998). Battling the elements: Weather and terrain in the conduct of war. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  57. Wulder, M. A., White, J. C., Nelson, R. F., et al. (2012). Lidar sampling for large-area forest characterization: A review. Remote Sensing of Environment, 121, 196–209.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rse.2012.02.001 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Ziegler, A. D., & Giambelluca, T. W. (1998). Influence of revegetation efforts on hydrologic response and erosion, Kaho‘Olawe Island, Hawai‘i. Land Degradation & Development, 9, 189–206.  https://doi.org/10.1002/(SICI)1099-145X(199805/06)9:3<189::AID-LDR272>3.0.CO;2-R.

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UFR Géographie, Histoire, Economie et SociétésUniversité Paris-DiderotParisFrance
  2. 2.School of Aviation and Transportation TechnologyPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

Personalised recommendations