Bunkers & Nature
Thousands of varying sized bunkers were built at a high rate as part of the Atlantic Wall during the occupation. After the war they were quickly abandoned, demolished, buried under the sand (from the dunes) or otherwise left to become derelict, allowing nature to slowly take over.
Bats in bunkers
It has mainly been bats that have discovered the benefits of safe and frost-free winters in bunkers. The fact that most of the concrete constructions were subterranean meant that they were ideal locations for breeding and shelter during wintertime, providing a safe 'meeting place' for male and female bats.
Bats are the only mammals that can fly. Thanks to their special way of life, they can reach a great age, individuals frequently passing 30 years of age. Food for these insect-eaters is scarce in wintertime and so it is essential that they can count on undisturbed shelter for the colder months. Properly maintained bunkers can serve as their dwelling for years.
Of the approximately 20 species of bat, it is mainly the Daubenton's bat, the lake bat, the whiskered bat and the common long-eared bat that use the Atlantic Wall bunkers and corridors. It is important that the locations used by these species remain undisturbed from August to mid-May (their winter and breeding season).
A bunker must meet a number of standards:
- The climate inside the shelter must remain constant i.e. frost-free in winter.
- It should be sufficiently moist so that the bats do not become dehydrated.
- Any predators should be kept out.
- Humans should not disturb the shelter.
The preservation of cultural heritage bunkers goes hand-in-hand perfectly with the preservation and expansion of winter shelters for bats, amphibians and insects.