A combined coastal protection, realignment and wetland restoration scheme in the southern Baltic: planning process, public information and participation


Markgrafenheide-Hütelmoor covers a total area of 1000 ha (about 490 ha are coastal moor) and a coastline of about 6 km. This touristy area belongs to the city of Rostock in Germany. As response to sea level rise and heavy coastal erosion, the small seaside resort Markgrafenheide received a comprehensive storm surge protection until 2006. Subsequently, the adjacent Hütelmoor was flooded with the aim to restore it as a brackish coastal moor. Coastal protection measures at the Baltic Sea coastline were abandoned to enable natural dynamics, a coastal realignment and salt water intrusions. The entire process until full implementation took 14 years and was associated with very problematic public participation and a strong local polarization. Based on a literature and media review, two surveys, and expert interviews we retrospectively document and analyse the planning process with focus on public information, perception and participation. The local population and holidaymakers did not perceive coastal changes and if, did not associate them with climate change. Interviewees remembered single storm surges, but felt save from it and sea level rise was not perceived as a threat. 89% said that they feel insufficiently informed about the combined coastal protection wetland restoration measure, but did not use the offered information possibilities. 81% had their information from newspapers and freely distributed advertisers. It seems that insufficient information was the major reason for the problems with local acceptance and public participation. The media played a dominating role. The decline of traditional newspapers and the growths of free advertisers seemed to have a negative impact on quality of information and favoured a polarization. Additionally, we discuss local specifics like the cultural background (GDR history), traditions, frustration and the relatively old population and their role in public participation. We strongly promote a pro-active and long-term information and public relation strategy.

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The work was part-funded by the BONUS BaltCoast project. BONUS BaltCoast has received funding from BONUS (Art 185) funded jointly from the European Union’s Seventh Programme for research, technological development and demonstration, and from Baltic Sea national funding institutions. We would also like to express special thanks to the StALU MM (Staatliches Amt für Landwirtschaft und Umwelt Mittleres Mecklenburg), especially Dr. Sonja Leipe, for providing background information, documents and expertise as well as to all interview partners and survey respondents.

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Correspondence to Gerald Schernewski.

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Schernewski, G., Schumacher, J., Weisner, E. et al. A combined coastal protection, realignment and wetland restoration scheme in the southern Baltic: planning process, public information and participation. J Coast Conserv 22, 533–547 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11852-017-0542-4

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  • Hütelmoor
  • Climate change adaptation
  • Public perception
  • Systems approach framework
  • Integrated coastal zone management
  • Sea level rise
  • Erosion
  • Brackish moors