Comparative Politics

Political Stake Holders in Costal Land Management

Based on a project supported with 3.4 million euro by the German Ministry of Research and Education, our group identifies the political stakeholders and analyzes the policy processes directed towards coastal land management in northern Germany. “Climate change threatens North-west Europe´s coastal areas primarily through accelerated sea-level rise, increasing storm surges, and increasing winter rainwater discharge. Today’s coastal land management is based on the protection against floods by sea walls and groundwater regulation by drainage. Accelerating sea-level rise and changes in hydrological cycles are likely to affect coastal ecosystems and may restrict the efficiency of these measures in the future. Based on a systematic stakeholder analysis and iterative stakeholder involvement through the length of the [Sustainable Coastal Land Management: Trade-offs in Ecosystem Services project (COMTESS)] will perform an inter- and transdisciplinary investigation of four scenarios, applied to a North Sea and a Baltic Sea coastal region in Germany: (1) Water management: Construction of second coastal defense lines within the hinterland instead of heightening the primary sea wall and formation of freshwater polders enclosed by the primary and secondary dike line. Primary aims of this scenario are to restrict flooding to the polder area in case of limited breaches, to increase freshwater retention for use in dry periods, to prevent subsurface salt water intrusion, and to use reeds for green energy. (2) Carbon sequestration: Similar to the first scenario but polders will be extensively covered with reed fens to yield active peat formation. (3) Trend: Dairy farming and grassland as usual. However, flood events may substantially disrupt land use and incur higher drainage costs, thus reducing the ecological and economic viability of this land management. (4) Stakeholder-based: The three project-led scenarios will be submitted to the evaluation of stakeholders of each case study region to explore stakeholder land use preferences. Stakeholder views will be thereby contrasted to economic and ecological rationales. Important emerging discrepancies, which might jeopardize the acceptance and feasibility of implementing the project-led scenarios land use management strategies, will form the basis of a stakeholder-based land-use scenario. Each scenario implies the prioritization of certain ecosystem services (ESS, e.g. water management vs. carbon sequestration vs. food production) as well as synergies or trade-offs with other ESS (e.g. biodiversity vs. green energy production)…” (COMTESS project summary).