As part of my teaching at Leuphana University Lüneburg, I gave a seminar in Winter Semester 22/23 on ‘Spatial Planning in Practice’ with a particular focus on ecosystem-based marine spatial planning. The seminar formed part of the minor programme in Spatial Science. The interdisciplinary group of undergraduate students brought their own perspectives and skills to the complex task of preparing an ecosystem-based transboundary marine spatial plan for the Dogger Bank area of the North Sea. The students initially worked in small groups focussed on thematic issues of relevance to the case study area, including offshore wind, shipping, fishing, marine mammals and birds.
Students discussing planning options for the Dogger Bank, bringing together diverse stakeholder perspectives.
Mapping fishing grounds at the Dogger Bank
The groups identified objectives for their area of focus for both 2030 and 2060 as well as potential planning measures targeted at achieving those objectives. In a subsequent step, the students exchanged information between the groups and engaged in negotiation with the aim of achieving common objectives, balancing the expansion of offshore renewable energy with protection of the marine environment and against the background of existing uses of marine space.
Following a successful tender application, I have been commissioned by BirdLife International to conduct an evaluation of national level Marine Spatial Plans (MSPs). Over the next few months, I will develop a methodology for the assessment of MSPs based on a screening of relevant EU environmental directives. This methodology will initially be applied to four countries located within the Baltic and North Sea Regions: Belgium, Germany, Lithuania and Sweden and subsequently made available to practitioners and stakeholders for the evaluation of MSPs across Europe.
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.