Wadden Sea

The Wadden Sea coastal landscape and ecosystem has featured strongly in my research and applied consultancy work over the past six years. This research work was initially made possible through the receipt of a research grant from the German Research Foundation (DFG, 2016-2020).

In 2022, I participated and co-led an international excursion at the Wadden Sea coast of Germany and Denmark as part of the TriWadWalk project (report here). He curated the TriWadWalk online lecture series, prepared to accompany the excursions and provide materials for future university teaching and research.


Protected area management has a long history in Europe and North America with the first US National Park established in 1872 at Yellowstone followed by the first National Parks in Europe in 1909 (Sweden) and 1914 (Switzerland). Whereas the primary focus has traditionally centred on the preservation of areas of ‘untamed’ and ‘pristine’ wilderness, conservation objectives and values have shifted considerably over time. Increasingly protected areas are viewed within their regional socio-economic and cultural context and objectives are framed in terms sustainable use, development and protection, recognising that cultural and natural heritage are, in practice, interconnected. Indeed, protected areas are increasingly considered to play a critical role in processes of socio-ecological transformation, responding to major socio-environmental trends such as uneven globalisation, individualisation, climate change and biodiversity loss.

With mounting concerns regarding the health and sustainability of our oceans and seas, recent years have witnessed the establishment of marine protected areas across the world. Here, also, it is increasingly recognised that biodiversity goals need to be supplemented with due regard for socio-cultural values and the livelihoods of those who make a living from the sea and the coast. Through my research work at the Wadden Sea coast, I have been able to compare diverse practices of protected area management within the context of what is recognised internationally as a good practice case of transboundary cooperation. More specifically, my work in this field has focussed on the following topical issues:

– Underlying understandings of nature and landscape and their influence on the management of protected areas;

– The relationship between conservation and sustainable regional development (within and across park boundaries);

– The incorporation of cultural values and perspectives within protected area management;

– The role of spatial planning in the governance of protected areas and the intersections between planning, landscape management and conservation policy.

Related Published outputs

Liburd, J.J. & Walsh, C. (2022) Beyond Sustainable Development at the Wadden Sea: Towards A Regenerative Paradigm, Trilateral Wadden Sea Cooperation Annual Report 2022, 4-9 (lead article).

Tubridy, F., Walsh, Lennon, M. & Scott, M. (2022) Contextualising coastal management and adaptation: Examining situated practices and path dependencies in Ireland and Germany, Ocean and Coastal Management, 220, 106095, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2022.106095.

Döring, M. Walsh, C. & Ratter, B. (2022) Emplaced climate imaginaries: The regional construction of climate futures on the German Wadden Sea Coast, Geoforumhttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2022.02.010

Walsh, C. Müsch, M., Petersen, M. Siemen, H., Gilles, A. (2022) Analysis of funding opportunities for future project activities of the Trilateral Partnership in support of the UNESCO Wadden Sea World Heritage, download here.

Döring, M., Walsh, C. & Egberts, L. (2021) Beyond nature and culture: relational perspectives on the Wadden Sea landscape, Maritime Studies (introduction to special issue), https://doi.org/10.1007/s40152-021-00246-x

Walsh, C. (2021) Protected area management in a post-natural world: negotiated governance at the Danish Wadden Sea, Maritime Studieshttps://doi.org/10.1007/s40152-021-00225-2.

Walsh, C. (2021) Zwischen ‘Ruhe’ und ‘Unberührtheit’: Landschaftsbilder am Wattenmeer im internationalen Vergleich in Walsh, C., Kangler, G. Schaffert, M. (eds.) Landschaftsbilder und Landschaftsverständnisse in Politik und Praxis, Wiesbaden: Springer VS.

Walsh, C. (2020) Landscape Imaginaries and the Protection of Dynamic Nature at the Wadden Sea, Rural Landscapes: Society, Environment, History, 7 (1), 1-20, http://doi.org/10.16993/rl.55.

Walsh, C. (2019) Integration of Expertise or Collaborative Practice? Coastal Management and Climate Adaptation at the Wadden Sea, Ocean and Coastal Management, 167, 78-86 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2018.10.004.

Walsh, C. & Kannen, A. (2019) Spatial Planning at Sea: Shifting Planning Practices at the North Sea Coast of Germany, Raumforschung und Raumordnung: Spatial Research and Planning, 77, (2) 147-164, https://doi.org/10.2478/rara-2019-0020.

Ratter, B. M. W. & Walsh C. (2019) Küstenlandschaften, in Kühne, O. et al. (Hrsg.) Handbuch Landschaft, Wiesbaden: Springer VS, 699-710, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-658-25746-0_56.

Walsh, C. (2018) Metageographies of Coastal Management: Negotiating Spaces of Nature and Culture at the Wadden Sea, Area, 50, (2), 177-185. https://doi.org/10.1111/area.12404

Walsh C. & Döring M. (2018) Cultural Geographies of Coastal Change, Area, 50, (2), 146-149 (introduction to guest-edited special section), https://doi.org/10.1111/area.12434

Gerkensmeier, B., Ratter, B. M. W., Vollmer, M. & Walsh C. (2017) Managing coastal risks at the Wadden Sea: a societal perspective, Disaster Prevention and Management  https://doi.org/10.1108/DPM-04-2017-0074

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