Germany's Environment Ministry says 62 former military bases and training areas are being turned into nature reserves, providing some 77,000 new acres of protected land for wildlife.

The ministry said Friday that the land will be considered protected immediately, even though details are still being worked out on who will look after the wildlife areas and also how to ensure munitions and other military materials have all been cleared away.

The tracts vary in size and are scattered across the country. They became available as Germany moves ahead with downsizing its military from a Cold War footing of some 250,000 to a smaller fighting force.

Germany's military abandoned conscription in 2011 and is undergoing a long-term reform plan toward a professional service of 170,000 and some 15,000 short-term volunteers