|This article relies largely or entirely on a single source. (March 2013)|
Flurbereinigung is the German word used to describe land reforms in various countries, especially West Germany and Austria. The term can best be translated as land consolidation. Unlike the land reforms carried out in the socialist countries of the Eastern Bloc, including East Germany, the idea of Flurbereiningung was not so much to distribute large quasi-feudal holdings to the formerly landless rural workers and/or to Kolkhoz-style cooperatives, but rather to correct the situation where after centuries of equal division of the inheritance of small farmers among their heirs and unregulated sales, most farmers owned many small non-adjacent plots of land, making access and cultivation difficult and inefficient. Two other European countries where this kind of land reform has been carried out are France (remembrement) and the Netherlands (ruilverkaveling).
Although these reforms had been anticipated by agricultural planners since the beginning of the 19th century, they were not executed in grand scale until the time about 1950. These reforms sought to improve agricultural efficiency and support the infrastructure. Basis in Germany was a law passed in 1953 called ″Flurbereinigungsgesetz″, latest amendment from 1976. After criticism about loss of biodiversity caused by large-scale land reforms began to be voiced in the late 1970s, restoring the natural environment became another objective.
Reasons for land consolidation
The process of Flurbereinigung was spurred heavily after the Second World War. In that time there was a great need for inexpensive agricultural products. At the same time the population in West Germany underwent a rapid increase caused by millions of refugees from the former eastern territories of Germany. The idea was first to restructure the land properties by amalgamating different fields under the same property that were formerly geographically dispersed, thus reducing labor and costs of cultivating those fields. As a second step, agricultural infrastructures like dirt roads and farming machinery were heavily improved. That process also included regulating streams and straightening country roads. As a result, the Flurbereinigung radically reshaped large areas of German agriculture, including the German wine industry. First taking shape in land consolidation legislation passed in the 1950s as part of an overhaul of the structuring of German agriculture, the Flurbereinigung would see many landscapes rearranged and physically reshaped, for example with respect to building access roads to make agriculture more effective.
Reason for restructuring vineyards
Many German wine regions, like the Mosel, have their vineyards planted on steep terraces along a riverbank to maximize the climate benefits of the nearby river. Often these vineyards were planted before mechanical harvesting was widely used and had to be picked by hand at great labor expense. Another disadvantage was the lack of ideal drainage in some of these vineyards where either too much or too little water was retained for the vine to sustain quality production.
Process and benefits
With Federal and local help from the government many German vineyard owners were able to redesign and replant their vineyards to optimize maintenance and harvesting. Several vineyards also took the opportunity to upgrade their plantings from the lower-quality Müller-Thurgau grape to the high-quality Riesling vine. Some wine areas also improved the roads and access to their vineyards to increase tourism potential. In some cases, parcels of land that were spread out over different areas were reallocated among vineyard owners to reduce production cost.
In areas where not winegrowers but ″ordinary″ farmers are the target group, it is normally the size of the parcels and the better infrastructure which are the aim of the land consolidation. In current days also community and regional development and environment protection are the target.
Involved in a Flurbereiningung are the participants, who are owners and leaseholders of the affected land, as well as the holders of rights of the land lots, the affected municipality, public agencies and farmer associations. The participants may incorporate to a body of public right which is controlled by a public authority and called "Teilnehmergemeinschaft", best translated as association of participants. According to the Flurbereinigungsgesetz these bodies may form a union within a federal country. All unions have integrated into "Bundesverband der Teilnehmergemeinschaften", federal alliance of associations of participants.
The area of a Flurbereiningung shall be formed for the greatest benefit for the participants but also for the general public. Public ways and constructions such as channels and straitening of creeks are built, land improvement is carried out, and the landscape is rearranged according to regional development and country planning. Thereafter ways and constructions are normally in possession of the municipality. It is desirable that the estates of land are as homogeneously as possible distributed among the participants. As this is not always possible, proceedings against the distribution are not rare.
A very negative example of Flurbereinigung occurred in the first half of the 70th at Kaiserstuhl (Baden-Württemberg), when great terraces where created with an inclination in direction to the hillside. The idea was to store water in the area, but heavy rains in the Pentecost week in 1983 leeded to great damage. Moreover due to the inclination of the terraces in springtime (blooming time of the wine) cold air was stored leeding to massive frostbites.