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Last Fertile Region

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"Whenever I see a world untouched by war, a world of innocence, a world of lush forests and clear rivers... I really just wanna nuke the crap out of it!"
Ghost, StarCraft II

When there's a Dystopia of some kind, especially if it involves machinery, there will usually be one spot in the world that still retains nature and beauty. One area where plants flourish, the water is fine, and in general things are very nice.

The good guys usually want to get there to find a better life or protect it from becoming barren like the rest of the world, though the two reasons can overlap. The bad guys usually want to get rid of it, either for resource gathering or for the sole purpose of being a douche. Like with the protagonists, both reasons can overlap. When the Ecocidal Antagonist is involved, it is inevitable for them to target such a place.

Places like these are often used in a Green Aesop and Gaia's Lament. Related to Hope Sprouts Eternal. Can go hand in hand with The Promised Land when the characters are trying to reach it, and/or converse about it and all its wonders. Alternatively, the characters may already live there because it's the only habitable place left. In particularly dark versions, it may be on its last legs, with humanity doomed to extinction unless the blight can be undone.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Blue Submarine No. 6, there's an orchard in Antarctica.
  • Fist of the North Star has a number of areas that weren't completely devastated by the war and are shown to be still fertile, and when known groups of survivors tend to move there.
    • Played for Drama in a story arc that wasn't animated: one of said fertile areas isn't really fertile, the local lord has spread the rumor to entire would-be colonizers and use it to clean up and fertilize the ground with their own bodies once they die of exhaustion.
  • Green Legend Ran revolves around this for its plot, only instead of a specific region of land, it's also a specific girl with the power to restore the depleted planet back to life.
  • Macross Frontier toward the end has the Vajra Homeworld, which becomes this trope when Frontier suffers so much ecological damage to its habitat fleet from the war that they can no longer sustain themselves. Deconstructed, as the Vajra are perfectly happy to leave it that way, while Frontier launches an all-out assault on the planet in order to colonize it.
  • Cephiro in Magic Knight Rayearth 2. The world itself has been drastically reduced in size (and more is crumbling away into the sky daily), leaving one castle that supports the population with gardens and orchards inside.
  • NausicaƤ of the Valley of the Wind, although it's also sort of a subversion since humans in their current state can't survive the truly green areas, due to the heavy biological alterations that made them capable of living in the poisoned land to begin with.
  • Played with in Phoenix: Resurrection, where the protagonist and his love interest are seen enjoying themselves in a pastoral landscape; however, the protagonist's perceptions have been altered due to a botched resurrection treatment, and this beautiful landscape is actually a run-down factory. (Similarly, the girl is actually a robot who looks only barely human in reality.)
  • The war between Rome and Helvetia in Sound of the Sky is over the last fertile territories on Earth, after some mysterious war against... something turned most of the world into a desert and wrecked the oceans.
  • One story in both the manga and anime of Trigun concerns an old couple who care for the only truly fertile spot on the entirety of Gunsmoke. There's a Plant buried under it.

    Comic Books 
  • Avalon in the X-Men epic Age of Apocalypse is this, and the bad guys are trying to destroy it.
  • Averted in the French comic La Bombe, in which a massive pharmaceutical company maintains a vast expanse of Amazonian forest alive on an otherwise dystopian city-planet, because it's actually cheaper to get the various compounds from plants rather than synthesizing them.
  • In the Gold Key Comics run for Star Trek, the Enterprise comes across a world that's one giant, seemingly abandoned city with a small portion of fertile land left. They quickly learn that automated city-building machinery had gone out of control and kept building new city continuously and the locals were incapable of stopping them as they simply developed an indestructible synthetic metal when cut off from raw materials. Kirk and co. are forced to quickly develop a way to defeat the machines before they destroy the last bit of habitable land and render the planet completely uninhabitable for the surviving natives.

    Films — Animated 
  • FernGully: The Last Rainforest has the title rainforest. In this case, its impending destruction is justified because the Big Bad feeds off such evil.
  • The Land Before Time has The Great Valley, which every main character is trying to get to due to its lush plant life and safety from Sharp Tooths in an otherwise apocalyptic world. Several other examples appear in the Lighter and Softer sequel films that downplay The Great Valley's uniqueness and the hostility of the world outside of it, but it remains the Ur Example for most of the characters.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The planet of Pandora in Avatar acts like this on a planet-wide scale for the dissolute, solar-system conquering, machine-driven humans.
  • Damnation Alley: Most of America is an irradiated wasteland after the nuclear war, but the missiles from the California military base the main characters were at did intercept several Soviet nukes before they hit America. Consequently, when the wandering heroes reach Albany, New York, it has has lots of healthy people and vegetation.
  • In The Fountain, the snowglobe-like spaceship containing a single ancient tree and a Human living off its bark might be all that's left of Earth.
  • In The Giver, a recurring symbol of life outside the Community is a tree glimpsed through the Giver's window. Jonas follows this to Elsewhere, which, while barren in places, flourishes much more than the areas within the Communities.
  • In The Island (2005), the title Island is stated to be the last uncontaminated place in the world After the End, besides the facility, where the survivors are being kept. It's a lie. The world is fine, and the "survivors" are clones of the rich and the famous being used for body parts. Those chosen to go to "the Island" are actually being sedated and taken to be cut up for whatever parts are needed for the original.
  • Throughout Mad Max: Fury Road, Furiosa tries to get the Wives of Immortan Joe to what she calls the Green Place, a spot in the wasteland that not only has vegetation but clean water as well. It turns out that the polluted swamp that she drives through was the Green Place, meaning all her efforts were for nothing... and then Max realizes that Immortan Joe has left his citadel understaffed to pursue her, which means they could race him back, seize control of the otherwise impregnable defenses, and take the lush water and vibrant vegetation for themselves without an insane dictator in charge.
  • No Blade of Grass: The valley where David farms potatoes may not be the only place in England not being hit by the plant-killing virus, but it is the only one the protagonists know about.
  • At the very end of the film of The Road, birdsong can be heard, implying that the protagonist may have found such a place and that there's hope for the world yet.
  • In Silent Running, all plant life on Earth has been made extinct: the only plants left are in giant greenhouses attached to space freighters. Orders come through to jettison and destroy the domes so the ships can be returned to commercial service.
  • Total Recall (2012) has a chunk of Europe and Australia be the two remaining habitable regions on Earth with the rest being toxic. However, it's difficult to call the regions "fertile" since all we see are cities and slums.
  • Waterworld: Dry Land is supposed to be this to the people of Waterworld, but no one is sure if it really exists: Most of the atollers don't believe it does, the Smokers do and want to plunder it, and the Mariner - who has spent his entire life sailing the globe - thinks it's just a myth. It does exist, and the heroes find it at the end, where it's revealed to be the very top of Mt. Everest, now transformed into a tropical paradise with forests, horses, and fertile land.

  • The city where Gun God lives in Angel Notes is the last place on Earth where plants can still grow after the death of Gaia (the Earth spirit that is needed for anything to live on the planet—except humans), because it is built upon the giant corpse of Type-Venus, an alien life form from another planet whose spirit is alive and thus remotely provides nourishment to the Terran plants.
  • In the Children Of Eden book series, after Earth's ecosystem was ruined in a man-made disaster that killed all animals and most plants, the protagonist Rowan discovers a society of underground rebels who take care of the last living tree on the planet.
  • The land of Lys in The City and the Stars. A billion years in the future, the Earth's oceans have all dried up, and the entire world is covered in desert, except for one small region surrounded by mountains, and getting its water from underground.
  • Ghoul Pass in Cthulhu Armageddon happens to be one of these as it was blessed by priests of Shub-Niggurath and is maintained by regular human sacrifices. As part of the Gray-and-Gray Morality of the setting, it's noted that it saves many lives due to its abundant produce. Notably, one of the protagonists is reduced to stunned silence due to their first sight of so much green and foliage.
  • In The Ear, the Eye and the Arm, Resthaven, "the heart of Africa", is a gigantic nature compound and recreation of life as it was in ancient Africa, in the middle of Zimbabwe, which has been completely industrialized and citified. Resthaven is so utterly protected — few of its inhabitants know of the outside world at all, and even airplanes are expressly forbidden from flying overhead — that it never really runs into danger in the story. Instead, when the lost children enter Resthaven, it's a sign of panic because bureaucracy means they'll never leave.
  • In Nineteen Eighty-Four, the countryside pasture that Winston and Julia make love in is only seen in one chapter. It's positively idyllic compared to the run-down cities they live in, with fields, trees, and hope for the future. Sadly, Big Brother is watching here, too.
  • Subverted in Mark Geston's science fiction novel Out of the Mouth of the Dragon, where the only land on Earth whose ecology hasn't been totally destroyed by human activity is a reeking swamp infested with giant, man-eating lizards. And in the end, even that last ecosystem is destroyed by the chemical and biological weapons that wiped out the two nations to the north of the swamp. Which in turn drove the now-starving giant man-eating lizards to the south in search of food, where they ate all the people of Enador, the last and most powerful city-state in the world. More or less played straight with the sea, which seems to have miraculously remained fertile, but even that dies in the end.
  • Seekers has the titular Last Wilderness in the fourth book, which the protagonists spend the first three books trying to reach.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Man-made nature areas on the city planet of Coruscant. There were also the Manarai Mountains, two peaks that were the last purely natural area left on the planet. When the Yuuzhan Vong invaded, they turned the mountains into smoking craters.
    • There are actually two on the Noghri homeworld of Honoghr, but arable land is incredibly scarce. The Noghri believe this is due to chemical and radioactive poisoning from several starships destroyed in orbit. In reality, the Empire deliberately engineered the catastrophe and has spent the last 44 years carefully restricting the amount of livable space to keep the Noghri in perpetual indentured servitude. Understandably, the Noghri are pissed when they find out, leading directly to the creation of the second using decontamination materials provided by the New Republic in a sheltered valley hidden from orbital sensors.
  • The land of Shinovar in The Stormlight Archive is an interesting variant. Due to the massive mountain range on its eastern edge, it is the one place on the planet where Earth-style life can grow. Everywhere else, the super-hurricanes known as highstorms scour the land to bare rock every few days. All the plants have stony shells in which to hide, more like coral than Earth plants, and all the animals are arthropodal or insectoid designs that can withstand the storms. The twist is that all the protagonists are native to the storm-lands, so seeing Shinovar and what we would consider to be normal plants and animals freaks them out.
  • In Sergey Lukyanenko's novella Thirteenth City, the fourth planet of the LK 43 system is suffering form the consequences of a global nuclear war. The surviving Human Aliens live in twelve tower-like Cities under the totalitarian rule of the Watchers. Concepts like friendship, love, laughter, and hatred are treated as atavisms and publicly censured. Sexual partners are chosen by computers. While the people do vote on Watcher proposals, all of the so-called "Equals" (the only acceptable honorific) are brainwashed to rubber-stamp them. A small group called Outsiders lives in a valley outside the cities. Unable to grow their own crops, they conduct regular raids on City supplies. They also raid Cities to kidnap teenagers to fill their ranks, as they have an incredibly high child mortality rate. The protagonist, a human named Dima, who has crash-landed on the planet, finds out that there also exists a mythical place called the Thirteenth City, where only Watchers are allowed to go. He and his local companions manage to reach the place and find out that it's not a city at all. It's a lush forest (itself a rarity on the radioactive world) with cabins scattered in it. However, Dima then finds out that the social order imposed by the Watchers is the only one that allows this species to survive. There are millions of people in the tightly-packed Cities, but the forest can only support about fifteen hundred, and the Outsiders' valley can hold no more than five thousand. In such tight quarters, emotions have to be suppressed in order to maintain order and harmony. Genetic mutations require the computer selection of sexual partners in order to produce healthy offspring. Dima pledges to do everything in his power to convince Earth's authorities to send a relief expedition to the planet.
  • Yevgeny Zamyatin's We features a future where most of the Earth's population has been wiped out by war, but a small enclave called the One State remains surrounded by a Green Wall to protect the people from the savagery of the outside world. This is an inversion of the trope, however; the world outside the Green Wall is actually a lush natural reserve, while the One State itself is entirely mechanized and everything in it is made of glass.
  • Children's literature example: Bill Peet's The Wump World — the evil Pollutians take over a Garden Of Eden world and pave it pole to pole, driving the titular Wumps underground, but when they move on, the plants regrow from one little park.
  • Z for Zachariah: The valley where the main character lives is the only part of the country not devastated by a nuclear war, and the only other survivor to reach the valley does so after traveling for a year in a radiation suit. It is never explained why the valley survived, only that the main character's parents always talked about how it seemed to have its own weather independent of the surrounding area. The film adaptation suggests it is due to rocky hillsides and a good supply of groundwater.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Despite its setting in the aftermath of a global nuclear exchange, The 100 averts this trope until the end of its fourth season, when the biosphere, which adapted to the residual radiation, succumbs to the much heftier global fallout from the nuclear reactor failures on the other side of the world. The Shenandoah Valley happens to escape the worst of the radiation, leaving it as a unique living zone surrounded by wasteland. And then at the end of season 5 it gets obliterated by a Fantastic Nuke.
  • Power Rangers RPM has the entire world seemingly overrun by Killer Robots and turned into a barren wasteland. The only spot left standing is the domed city of Corinth. In the finale, however, some of the characters find another fertile region growing back.
  • Terra Nova has an entire alternate universe as this. By the mid-22nd century, Earth is a used up polluted world with smog all the time, population controls, people walking with breathers in order to survive, fruit being a rare and exotic treat, and the rich living in domes. In contrast, the alternate universe of Terra Nova is millions of years in the past, where the dinosaurs are still around, and is humanity's last hope for survival. While the Terra Nova colony is doing what it can to establish a permanent colony for mankind to settle and prosper while avoiding the mistakes of the past, Phoenix Group instead wants to strip mine the place for materials to benefit the corporations back home.

  • In The Mechanisms' Ulysses Dies At Dawn, the contents of the vault turn out to be the last living tree in existence when everything else was swallowed up by metal and ruin.

  • Earthsearch: When the protagonists finally discover Earth at the end of season 2, the planet has been devastated by war and environmental change, so the entire planetary population consists of a single town of ten thousand inhabitants. They use the terraforming technology on their spaceship to help fix this.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • By the time of Command & Conquer: Tiberium Wars, toxic self-replicating Green Rocks called Tiberium has ravaged much of the world. The GDI occupies the few fertile places left, called Blue Zones, per a ranking system where Blue Zones are Tiberium-free, Yellow Zones are contaminated but partially habitable, and Red Zones are completely overrun. Both Nod (a Tiberium-worshiping cult) and Scrin (aliens who thrive in Tiberium) wants to bomb the shits out of the Blue Zones while the GDI works to keep them Tiberium-free, although they had to exclude areas that were too far gone (e.g. contaminated water supply).
  • Fallout 3 has Oasis, the only place in the wasteland where trees flourish. The reason that nature flourishes here may be considered nightmare fuel to some, though.
  • Fallout: New Vegas:
    • The valley at the entrance to Vault 22, which is quite lush and verdant in comparison to its surroundings. Unlike in 3, however, the Nightmare Fuel status of the flora from Vault 22 is indisputable. The Colorado River is a variant; it's the last source of clean, radiation-free water in the region and the source of most of the armed conflict.
    • Honest Hearts has Zion National Park, which the nuclear war barely touched and has long since recovered, and is a paradise on earth compared to the rest of the Fallout universe. The player's moral choice is to evacuate the peaceful natives and let the Last Fertile Region be destroyed by its conquerors, or help the natives fight for it at the cost of their innocence.
  • Final Fantasy VII:
    • Midgar's use of Mako Reactors, that actually suck The Lifestream right out of the ground, makes it impossible for anything to grow in the area - indeed, there's nothing but dead wasteland for miles around, even once you get outside the city walls. However, in one run-down old church in the slums, in a spot where the old board-floor has rotted through, there lies a small garden, where beautiful, white flowers bloom...
    • Also, while infiltrating Shinra Corporation, the heroes can listen in on a board meeting and learn that Shinra is searching for a holy land said to be overflowing with Mako... so they can drain it dry. For massive profits of course.
  • In Growlanser III the Xironia Federation is the last country still able to grow crops in any sort of surplus. The rest of the world has been slowly stricken by famine as the sun's light begins to fade. The first third of the plot entails making an alliance to ensure the Federation's safety.
  • In the original Homeworld, Kharak is noted to be mostly a desert with only two fertile regions near the poles... And they're shrinking, leading to the Kushan to put all their hopes for the future in the Mothership and a desperate voyage for their ancestral homeworld of Hiigara. This act causes the Taiidan Empire to hit Kharak with atmosphere-burning weapons, making the planet uninhabitable and leaving the Mothership and the would-be colonizers with no choice but return to Hiigara and take it with force.
  • In Mega Man Zero 4, nature is finally returning to Area Zero after a Colony Drop (from way back in Mega Man X5) and the Elf Wars ravaged the world. Dr. Weil, the Big Bad, wants to destroy the place not only For the Evulz, but because that's where the humans that escaped him were hiding out.
  • In Metal Walker, the Rusted Land is a polluted, rusting cesspool. However, there's one spot in the game with trees and plants, aptly named Ever Green.
  • Played with brutally in Metro: Last Light. The surface world is slowly starting to recover, but the main plot is over a different kind of Last Fertile Region: D6, the massive military complex discovered in the first game. Rather than verdant meadows, D6 is a treasure trove of unspoiled supplies left over from before the war that will make whichever station that controls it comparably rich. Unfortunately, most of these supplies consist of military-grade bioweapons, fueling the conflict for total control.
  • In Wild ARMs 3, there are two fertile regions in what is otherwise a planet-wide desert: a tiny garden and forest powered by the last of the Elw and the region around Yggdrassil which is sucking up all the life energy of Filgaea, and thus has a little bit of "spillover" around it.

    Western Animation 

     Real Life 
  • The creation of Demilitarized Zones between countries on the brink of conflict can make for some surprisingly lush nature preserves, set apart from human influence. Particularly, the one between the borders of North and South Korea is one of the most well-preserved temperate habitats in the world, with a number of endangered species within it. Pretty good for a place surrounded by fortified fences, land mines, and sniper towers owned by two countries with quite poor environmental track records.
  • Ironically the same thing has happened to Chernobyl. The humans that used to inhabit the area were more of a hazard to the wildlife than the residual background radiation.
  • The Bialowieza Forest on the Poland-Belarus border is considered the best preserved temperate forest in Europe. Save the bear, the European mink, and the extinct aurochs, the forest's current fauna is the same as it was in Roman times. Alan Wiseman, the author of The World Without Us, compared his visit to Bialowieza to stepping in one of the Grimm brothers tales.
  • Several Islands that were mined during the Falklands War are giant penguin sanctuaries. Anything that could harm them sets off the mines and blows up.
  • Geothermal hot springs can be this trope for many species of Archaea, as such bacteria aren't physiologically equipped to survive in the chilly, oxygen-poisoned biosphere that the majority of Earth species consider home. But the near-boiling, sulfurous, anoxic water of geysers can provide a safe refuge for them to eke out a living.