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ICZM-Best practice case study in the Oder estuary

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Project region

Figure 1: Project region of ‘ICZM-Oder estuary’ (adapted from Radziejewska and Schernewski, 2008[1])

The project is located at the River Oder estuary at the southern Baltic Sea bordering Germany and Poland (see Figure 1). The entire estuary is dominated by the River Oder, which has its source 854 kilometres further south-easterly in the Czech Republic. After running through Western Poland, it flows into the shallow Szczecin Lagoon and then into three branches (‘Dziwna’, ‘Swina’ and ‘Peene’) that empty into the Baltic Sea. The Szczecin Lagoon can be subdivided into the Large Lagoon (‘Wielki Zalew’) on the Polish side and the Small Lagoon (‘Kleines Haff’) on the German side. The whole lagoon is shallow with an average depth of 3.8 metres (Radziejewska and Schernewski, 2008[1]).

The coastal region around the estuary is a complex pattern of lagoons and islands. Broad reed belts and artificial sandy beaches near the few small towns characterize the coastline. Due to its outstanding ecological value, most of the coastal area is under nature protection. A detailed description of the lagoon’s ecology is given in Radziejewska and Schernewski (2008[1]). The main economic activities around the River Oder estuary are tourism, agriculture, fishing, and shipping. In total more than ten million tourists visit the estuary region per year and deliver a lot of money to the region (Steingrube et al., 2007[2]). Another important source of income are the Polish harbours, which have an annual turnover above 22 million tonnes (Schernewski et al., 2005[3]).

Initial problem

The whole region of the Oder estuary is suffering from massive economic problems and high gradients between East and West as well as between coast and hinterland. The dwellers of the project region see their main problems in economic development, demographic development and a high rate of unemployment (Wenk, 2007[4]). A further problem is the high pollution of coastal waters by the River Oder. It has a 120.000 square kilometres large catchment area, from which 90% are on the Polish territory. Heavy eutrophication and water quality problems are consequence of the continuous inputs of nutrients and contaminants (Schernewski et al., 2004[5]). Both are a problem for tourism development and nature conservation, which are most important regional issues in the project region (Dolch, 2004[6]).

Project aims

The project constitutes a very particular ICZM initiative since it is mainly aiming at conducting research to deliver scientific output. Nevertheless the project aims at being of a practical use by accompanying the ICZM process in the region. But it is not mainly tending to put ICZM measures into practice (Schernewski, 2007[7]). The overall aim of the project is the sustainable development of the coastal region. Therefore tourism and environmental quality should be regarded in the context of all other regional activities and utilizations (Schernewski et al., 2007[8]).

Project performance

The project ‘ICZM-Oder estuary’ started in May 2004 and is divided in three phases, whereas the first two project phases ran from 2004 to 2007 and the third (currently in approval procedure) from 2007 to 2010. All phases are supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (‘Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung’, BMBF) with about 3.4 million Euros (Janßen, 2007[9]). It is one out of two reference projects on coastal management in Germany.

The project consists of eleven partners, which belong to the field of research as well as consultancy (Schernewski et al., 2007[8]). The coordination tasks are in the hands of the Baltic Sea Research Institute Warnemünde (‘Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde’; IOW). Additionally, the project consists of a steering committee. It should assure that the results hold practical relevance and the region benefits from the project. The committee consists of government representatives, lobbies, representatives of the districts as well as Polish members (Löser, 2007[10]).

The striking point of the project is that it does not deal with the practical implementation of single ICZM measures. It is not (or only limited) a practical ICZM execution project, but a research project aiming at gathering basic knowledge on ICZM. Its main focus is “to support the initiation of implementation by scientific advice, the search for funding, the provision of a supporting infrastructure as well as the enhancement of communication and knowledge transfer” (Schernewski et al., 2007[8]). Therewith it aims at developing towards a model region for national recommendations and international experience transfer (Schernewski et al., 2007[8]).

Project evaluation

The strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of ‘ICZM-Oder estuary’ (Tab. 1).

Table 1: SWOT scheme of the project ‘ICZM-Oder estuary’
SWOT Description
  • Through early political commitment it could be defined what is intended in the region, what is possible and in which direction the project should go.
  • Stakeholders could be defined which have a meaning/influence beyond their function. They were able to fund and organise important issues of ICZM in the region.
  • Discussions were a good measure to transfer ICZM into regional policy. Especially contact to regional key policy-makers in the field of regional and spatial planning was very important. They had the power to bring ICZM on the political agenda.
  • The Regional Agenda was a suitable umbrella to reach political commitment. The activities of the Agenda office lead to a build up of a working-, communication-, and information structure within the region.
  • The ICZM issue formulation did not come out of the region but from outside, namely BMBF and IOW, which lead to a lack of regional acceptance as well as a gap between research and practice.
  • Lack of interviews and communication to arrive at stakeholders’ concerns.
  • Meeting of the Steering Committee was too infrequent and sometimes with bad preparation. The project partners informed the Steering Committee rather than involved it.
  • The broadness and fuzziness of the ICZM term is one of the most important barriers in order to implement regional ICZM in the Oder estuary. The benefit of ICZM cannot be communicated.
  • ICZM as a practical tool for regional management hasn’t been carried in the region yet.
  • Strong involvement of administrations, policy-maker, and other stakeholders during development of the project proposal is of high relevance for the regional use and acceptance. Benefits of the ICZM initiative have to be clear to regional/local stakeholders.
  • It is important to emerge key stakeholders which have a meaning/influence beyond their function. They are able to fund and implement ICZM issues.
  • First assessment should be a stakeholder analysis focussing on existing representatives, their responsibilities and how they are connected which each other.
  • An ICZM strategy can only function as an umbrella under which specific project measures/executions are defined.
  • Next to formal structures, informal structures play a major role implementing ICZM efficiently, such as networks, communication, and engagement.
  • Weak involvement of regional and local stakeholders (from policy, administrations, and public) endangers the quality of an ICZM initiative.
  • Long-term funding is very difficult if ICZM is not institutionalised since all funding is bound to election periods.
  • Build-up of additional or parallel structures.
  • It seems not being possible to communicate the abstract idea of ICZM.


  1. 1,0 1,1 1,2 Radziejewska, T. and Schernewski, G., 2008. The Szczecin (Oder-) Lagoon. In: U. Schiewer (Editor), Ecology of Baltic Coastal Waters, Ecological Studies, Vol. 197. Springer, Berlin, pp. 115-130.
  2. Steingrube, W., Scheibe, R. and Feilbach, M., 2007. Entwicklung einer großräumigen Tourismuskonzeption. In: G. Schernewski, H. Janßen and N. Löser (Editors), Forschung in der Odermündungsregion: Ergebnisse 2004-2007, IKZM-Oder Berichte 30. EUCC - Die Küsten Union Deutschland e.V., Rostock, pp. 91-102.
  3. Schernewski, G., Löser, N. and Sekścińska, A., 2005. Integrated Coastal Area - River Basin Management (ICARM): The Oder/Odra case study. In: B. Glaeser, A. Sekścińska and N. Löser (Editors), Integrated Coastal Zone Management at the Szczecin Lagoon: Exchange of experiences in the region. Coastline Report 6. EUCC - The Coastal Union, Leiden, pp. 43 - 54.
  4. Wenk, R., 2007. Agency for regional and spatial planning, Department of nature conservation, agriculture, forestry, fishery, resources and waste management, Greifswald. Personal communication at 25.09.2007.
  5. Schernewski, G., Behrens, H., Bock, S., Dehne, P., Erbguth, W., Glaeser, B., Janssen, G., Kazakos, W., Neumann, T., Permien, T., Schuldt, B., Sordyl, H., Steingrube, W., Vetter, L. and Wirtz, K., 2004. Integriertes Küstenzonenmanagement in der Odermündungsregion (IKZM Oder). In: G. Schernewski and T. Dolch (Editors), Geographie der Küsten und Meere, Coastline Reports 1. EUCC - Die Küsten Union Deutschland e.V., Warnemünde, pp. 183-194.
  6. Dolch, T., 2004. Die Auswirkungen der Wasserqualität auf den Tourismus - Eine Studie am Beispiel des Oderästuars. In: G. Schernewski and T. Dolch (Editors), The Oder estuary - against the background of the European Water Framework Directive. Meereswissenschaftliche Berichte No. 57. Baltic Sea Research Institute IOW, Warnemünde, pp. 223-288.
  7. Schernewski, G., 2007. Baltic Sea Research Institute IOW, Coastal Zone Research and Management, Warnemünde. Personal communication at 24.09.2007.
  8. 8,0 8,1 8,2 8,3 Schernewski, G., Janßen, H. and Löser, N., 2007. Forschung in der Odermündungsregion: Ergebnisse 2004-2007, IKZM-Oder Berichte 30, EUCC - Die Küsten Union Deutschland e.V., Rostock, pp. 120.
  9. Janßen, H., 2007. Baltic Sea Research Institute IOW, Coastal Zone Research and Management, Warnemünde. Personal communication at 24.07.2007.
  10. Löser, N., 2007. Forschung in der Odermündungsregion: Die erste Projektphase IKZM-Oder (2004-2007). In: G. Schernewski, H. Janßen and N. Löser (Editors), Forschung in der Odermündungsregion: Ergebnisse 2004-2007, IKZM-Oder Berichte 30. EUCC - Die Küsten Union Deutschland e.V., Rostock, pp. 1-18.

See also

Internal Links

External Links

  • The present study was performed within the frame of a Diploma thesis at the Technical University Berlin which was published as ICZM-Odra report no. 44, ISSN 1614-5968 download

The main author of this article is Tim Nandelstaedt
Please note that others may also have edited the contents of this article.