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Ghost towns: See what happens when nature takes over

By Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter
Saturday, April 12, 2014, 6:01 PM

Animal and plant species are going extinct at an alarming rate, but human populations are booming -- and it’s likely to remain that way.

Much of why can be attributed to our innate ability to control the environment. From towering cities to agricultural spaces, we seem to have mastered the ability to reclaim land.

That’s not to say we do it in the most environmentally-friendly way. In fact, many of our landscaping pursuits have degraded local ecosystems.

But -- as much as we like to think we’re in charge -- Mother Nature is the one who’s running the show.

It’s long been argued that the damage humans have inflicted on the planet is only temporary.

RELATED Find out how human development pushed the blue iguana to near extinction

There have been quite a few books, films and TV shows dedicated to the subject.

In his book The World Without Us, for example, author Alan Wiseman estimates it would take approximately 500 years for nature to completely reclaim the Earth, should all humans disappear.

While 500 years may seem like a long time to us, it’s really just a blip in time.

Our planet is more than 4.5 billion years old, after all.

That said, nature has already started to reclaim some abandoned spaces –- and the end result can be hauntingly beautiful.

1. Craco Basilicata, Italy

Photo courtesy: Andrea Tomassi/Flickr

This ghost town in southern Italy was abandoned in 1963 due to recurring landslides. Since then, buildings have crumbled and shrubbery bursts through doors and windows.

RELATED: How common are landslides in Canada?

2. Chernobyl nuclear power plant, formerly USSR

Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

This space has been abandoned for nearly 30 years, following a catastrophic nuclear disaster nearly thirty years ago. People can still enter the plant’s grounds, albeit for short periods of time.

Minimal human activity has enabled plants and animals to flourish.

3. Christ of the Abyss, Mediterranean Sea and Key Largo, Florida

Photo courtesy:Wilfred Hdez/Flickr

The original Christ of the Abyss (Il Cristo degli Abissi) is a bronze statue that was placed in the Mediterranean Sea in 1954 at a depth of 17 metres.

A similar “peace offering” was placed in Key Largo eleven years later.

In the image above, you can see what years of corrosion and crustacean growth have done to the Key Largo fixture.

4. Sanzhi District, Taiwan

Photo courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

This UFO-shaped condo project came to an abrupt halt in the 1980s when the developers lost their funding.

The land has remained virtually untouched ever since.

5. Kolmanskop, Namibia

Kolmanskop is a ghost town in the desert of southern Namibia.

Once a settlement for diamond miners, the area’s population began its decline after the second World War.

RELATED: Twelve year-old finds 5.16 carat diamond

Today, it serves as a popular tourist destination.

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