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

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.

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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.

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Correspondence to Rémi de Matos Machado .

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de Matos Machado, R., Hupy, J.P. (2019). The Conflict Landscape of Verdun, France: Conserving Cultural and Natural Heritage After WWI. In: Lookingbill, T., Smallwood, P. (eds) Collateral Values. Landscape Series, vol 25. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-18991-4_5

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