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Wismar Bay case study


The case shows of how, through a process of spatial and seasonal differentiation, conflicts between tourism and nature protection caused by undifferentiated demands can be limited to a minimum.

Application in MSP:
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Questions this practice may help answer

  • How to resolve a use conflict between nature protection and tourism together with the stakeholders?

Implementation context

The Wismar Bay is an area with great potential for an economically beneficial increase in tourism, esp. sport boat tourism. Such increase would, however, also be coupled with a more intensive use of water areas, new harbour & hotel development, extension of beaches and more non-local users. This may be in conflict both with local users, who want to keep the area for themselves, and especially nature protection needs as the Wismar Bay is an highly important bird protection area serving as a resting and breeding place.


Regional economic development plans especially for tourism were increasingly facing problems with nature protection & local interest groups: undifferentiated demands of water and beach tourists lead to undifferentiated demands made by nature protection, with resulting negative impacts on regional development.

Aspects / Objectives

As a response to the outlined situation of conflicting insterests, spatial and seasonal solutions were worked out with stakeholders.


As part of the INTERREG III B Baltic 21 Lighthouse Project “BaltCoast” an external expert office was engaged, which carried out a detailed inventory of current and future demands for nature protection, human uses (esp. water boat tourism) and development goals within the Wismar Bay.

As a result of this inventory three different kind of areas could be identified:

  • Areas where unrestricted use is possible – priority for economic development
  • Areas where (specific) activities are no longer possible – priority for nature protection
  • Areas where compromises are necessary - spatially / seasonally differentiated use

The analysis showed that conflicts were too often overestimated and that the areas for which compromises had to be found, was actually relatively small. Also: compromises were possible as solutions could often be identified through spatial-seasonally differentiated zoning. Whereas tourism uses are concentrated around summer, the time with highest demand for nature (bird) protection is winter. It also became clear that any increases in disturbance caused by new tourism developments (e.g. from new harbours) was mostly concentrated in areas already highly frequented.

A map showing possible uses and use restrictions in the Wismar Bay was produced and discussed with all interest groups within an intensive communication process managed by an external moderator. The acceptance of this moderator (coming from outside the area and financed by the regional ministry) could be increased through the parallel involvement of a locally well known bird expert. On the basis of bilateral discussions; working groups with experts and public hearings held with all interest groups, a cooperation of user groups could be initiated and compromises could be worked out. The stakeholders included a.o. yacht owners, surfers, anglers, canoers, harbour operators, tourism agencies, NGOs as well as municipalities, regional and local authorities dealing with tourism and nature protection. The question of scale was also important: local interest groups represent only their own local interests. These are not always identical with the interest of the total local & regional society (i.e. in terms of economic potential).

Main Outputs / Results

The zoning concept for spatial and seasonal differentiation became part of the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state spatial delevopment programme (Landesentwicklungsprogramm). They should be used as a basis for decision-making for the municipalities and regional authorities while preparing territorial impact assessments, environmental impact assessments and NATURA 2000 management plans.


The tool of spatial & seasonal differentiation is not limited to coastal areas. It can be used to any kind of geographical area with conflicting interests. However, zoning takes a great deal of flexibility and coupling with other forms of resource management. This is particularly important where ecological resources are concerned (fishes or birds will not be impressed by spatial plans). Reserve areas or human activities may therefore need to be shifted, limited or adapted.

Contact Person

Dr. Jürgen Autsch

Ministry for Labour, Construction and Regional Development Mecklenburg-Vorpommern

Phone: +49 (0) 385 5883841

Responsible Entity

Ministry for Labour, Construction and Regional Development Mecklenburg-Vorpommern

Costs / Funding Sources

Costs: 100,000 EUR

Funding source: INTERREG III B