Questions this practice may help answer
- How to regulate user conflicts through voluntary agreements?
Stretching between the city of Greifswald and the island of Rügen, the Greifswalder Bodden is a Natura 2000 site which is valued primarily as a stop-over point for migratory birds and as a breeding ground. At the same time, it is a highly popular area for watersports, offering excellent boating, canoeing and angling conditions. A voluntary agreement was worked out between stakeholder groups to bridge this user conflict.
Aspects / Objectives
Formal options for achieving nature conservation protection are an obvious option, but these take time. Creating a new National Park, for example, or even passing a bylaw for regulating boating
traffic could take ten years or more. There is also the problem of acceptance of such top-down options. For this reason, the WWF instigated a plan for “bottom up nature conservation”, involving users from the very beginning and jointly developing voluntary regulations which would be widely accepted by all. Thus the “Voluntary agreement on nature conservation, water sports and angling in the Greifswalder Bodden and the Stralsund” was born. Its aims are to protect the area in the long term, to regulate boating by agreeing spatial and seasonal restrictions, and to incorporate the voluntary agreement in the official Natura 2000 management plan.
Beginning in 2000, the first step was to bring together all interested parties, which in this case were nature conservation NGOs, the state Ministry for the Environment, as well as a wide range of local user groups and associations. Actual negotiations then took five years, with the last agreement signed in 2005. The process was facilitated by the WWF.
Main Outputs / Results
The agreements have the status of a regulation under public law. They are voluntary, but binding to the signatories. They comprise a framework agreement, signed by the state Ministry for the Environment, user associations, WWF and nature conservation NGOs, and four regional agreements governing the use of specific areas, signed also by local user associations. The agreement, which will run for 3 years initially, also stipulates that regular monitoring and evaluation will be carried out.
An elaborate information system was developed together with local sports associations to ensure that local and visiting users are aware of the agreements. A website, leaflets, posters and a guidebook “Boddenatlas” provide information, and a boat tour was arranged by the WWF to eleven local harbours and marinas in an attempt at raising as much awareness as possible. So far, monitoring results are encouraging, with 86% of boat users respecting the agreement in 2006.
Voluntary agreements can be concluded in different contexts.
Email: florian.hoffmannwwf.de (florian[dot]hoffmann[at]wwf[dot]de)
Phone: +49 (0)3831 297018
Funding came from the INTERREG III Programme, the lottery and the Manfred-Hermsen foundation.