Former coal districts in eastern Germany have been successful in securing a budget amounting to 1.44 billion euros to be used for the renaturation of lignite mines over the course of the next five years. Brandenburg, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Thuringia signed an administrative agreement with the federal government to continue the renaturation and deal with the environmental implications of intensive coal consumption during the time of the GDR. According to Steffi Lemke, Germany’s Minister of the Environment, “This is a crucial signal for the former East German opencast mining regions and for the conservation of nature.” According to Lemke, the fund would promote vital protection measures for soils, rivers, and nature until 2027, all while fomenting structural growth to ensure jobs and give areas new perspectives. The financing volume for lignite area renaturation is 214 million euros more than what is stipulated in the current administrative agreement. The government will pay for 978.7 million euros out of the total 1.44 billion euro cost.
After the reunification of Germany, a significant number of open-pit mines in the territory formerly occupied by the GDR were closed. Since 1991, the federal government and state governments of several states have put more than 11.9 billion euros on the renaturation of lignite. This includes rehabilitating and recultivating regions that had previously been utilized for mining, with the goal of making opencast pits and contaminated sites usable once more. There has been a lot of work made in lignite renaturation, which is a project that has been recognized as a success on a worldwide scale. There are now “diverse and appealing” landscapes standing where coal mines used to be in the past. In 2017, the respective federal and state administrations were successful in securing 1.23 billion euros for the project. The purpose of the new agreement is to secure the success of additional steps that need to be taken, such as securing inner dumps and maintaining a water balance that will, for the most part, regulate itself over the next few years.