Life After War

A region in France devastated by battle undergoes an ecological makeover.

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The Battle of Verdun in northeastern France was one of the longest and bloodiest clashes of World War I, claiming roughly 300,000 lives. It also decimated the landscape: Intense artillery fire felled nearly all of the region’s trees, and millions of exploding shells left deep depressions, exposing the limestone bedrock.

Now, 100 years after the end of World War I, recent research shows that new plants and animals have claimed the former battlefield as their habitat. They are adapting to the unique landforms of shell craters and underground shelters created by war.

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