In September 2022, I co-led a week-long international fieldtrip to the Wadden Sea coast at the border of northern Germany and southern Denmark. The fieldtrip was one part of a wider TriWadWalk partnership including universities in the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark. In May 2022, a first field trip took place, with a group of staff and students exploring the Wadden Sea coast and islands at the Dutch-German border. Both excursions were unusual for including a balance of staff and students (approximately 10 and 10) with emphasis placed on international exchange, interdisciplinary and intergenerational learning and the experience of being in and moving through ‘the field’. The staff came from the disciplines of geography, planning, tourism studies, anthropology, landscape architecture and environmental economics and are engaged to varying degrees in social science research at the Wadden Sea. The students brought a wider range of perspectives from their studies in both the environmental and social sciences. The fieldtrip developed from a longstanding collaboration between Wadden Sea researchers and educators at the universities of Bremen, Groningen, Hamburg, Lüneburg, Oldenburg and Southern Denmark and was generously supported by the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat, Wadden Academy, the Danish Wadden Sea National Park, and the University of Southern Denmark.
In the following, I provide a brief account of the week, informed by my own personal reflections. Where relevant, links to secondary sources for further information are provided.
I am pleased to be invited to participate in a panel discussion at the MSP Nature 2021 online conference which will take place next week. The conference hosted by the Leibniz Institute for Ecological and Urban Development (Dresden) together with the Leibniz Institute for Baltic Seas Research Warnemünde and the German federal Agency for Nature Protection (BfN) addresses the question of how to reconcile human activities with ecological functions through marine spatial planning, a question that resonates with much of my recent work.
The panel discussion (19.01, 14:30) will focus on international examples and includes experts from Russia and Israel. My own contribution will reflect on the Dutch approach to ecosystem-based management and ‘building with nature’ at sea. I will draw on previous research work on the Dutch North Sea 2050 Spatial Agenda and protected area management at the Dutch Wadden Sea coast.
Now that the contract is signed, I can announce that I am working on a desk-based study of Maritime Spatial Planning focussing on case studies of best / good practice where conflicts between offshore wind, fisheries and nature conservation interests have been resolved or ameliorated through MSP and related practices. This is a tall order of course, but I am confident existing good practices can point the way towards more inclusive and integrated forms of MSP where conflicts are resolved, mitigated and/or ameliorated through open dialogue, strategic planning and regulations sensitive to the particularities of individual places and their communities.