4. Theme based workshops

Another workshop emphasis was laid on three thematic sub-workshops to directly involve the participants in the project work. With regard to preservation, development and management as well as sustainable use of cultural landscapes and heritage, three themes were considered important:


Plenary session
The themes were introduced by the workshop chairs to give an overview about the state of the art and the developments in the region. In a second phase, the participants considered their vision of a cultural landscape in 2030. A third part focused on discussing strategies to reach the aims.

The results of the different sub-workshops were as follows:


4.1 Settlement development (Workshop A)

Smaller settlements, villages and cities in the region have been changing over decades. These changes are the result of the regional social as well as economic development,  Periods of increasing or decreasing population, changes in the economic structure and the effects on the average income as well as the general appreciation of a region or landscape are the main elements which have their effects on settlements. This continuous process of changing makes a living landscape.
In general, settlements are part of the cultural heritage and the cultural landscape of a region. One can read the cultural history in the individual buildings but also in the city plans. In the processes of change, it is important to take those values into account. It needs integrated management. What are the effects of the major developments on the settlements, especially on the landscape and the heritage and can we manage them?
The actual developments in settlements differ in the various regions. It depends partly on differences  in location. For example the proximity of a ‘nice’ coast (seasonal living, tourism) or a bigger city (employment).

Also the accessibility of settlements seems to be a very important factor (roads, public transport, high speed internet) in the growth of settlements. These and other elements effect the heritage and landscape. But also vice versa; values of cultural heritage and landscape can contribute to the development of settlements ! Living in villages with a special cultural environment is wanted, so people move to those places. Tourist’s look for those environments to visit and to stay overnight.
One can say that a vivid region, with a well balanced demographic structure, job’s and public services is part of maintaining the cultural heritage in the settlements. A lack of jobs and income will lead to less investments in individual housing as well in the public domains (buidings and places). Thus a sustainable economic development contributes to the cultural heritage in settlements.
But there is another important factor; being the awareness on quality. Decisions on how settlements should develop (extension of urban area’s, urban renewal, urban design) or individual decisions by owners on (re-)building must be inspired by the awareness of the cultural heritage and urban landscape. This sense of quality has to rise in the local government and administration and should be used in spatial policy and in some cases in building guidelines.                                                                                                                                                 The participants formulated the following visions regarding the development of the Wadden Sea Region in respect of cultural landscapes and heritage:  


  • The Wadden Sea Region as a living area with more private property, ownership and estates.

  • Increasing trend to live in small villages, which keeps the rural area vivid.

  • The Lancewad area will have changed from a remote area to a living area with more infrastructure.

  • A good accessibility to and within the area will be guaranteed.

  • The Lancewad area will be more attractive for tourism. This will include a limited mass tourism, which has a long tradition on the islands and, small scale tourism on the mainland.

  • People will focus on characteristics and tradition in the rural areas. Also the pure landscape will attract people.

  • In the whole coastal zone there will be no deserted settlements in wintertime, the area will be attractive all-season.

  • The Wadden Sea Region will become a sustainable area where people live and work.

In order to work towards the vision, the following strategies were mentioned:


  • Local authorities need more influence and responsibilities on the development of the region to emphasize regional matters.

  • Education programs on quality management for authorities have to be initiated.

  • Implementation of specific construction regulations for buildings to safeguard the cultural environment.

  • Sound cooperation and common guidelines in the Wadden Sea countries to preserve and maintain the common heritage.

4.2 Development of rural areas (Workshop B)

Rural areas constitute the largest part of the Wadden Sea Region and have always been very dependant on the varying effects of nature and economic markets. Phases of slumps in economic activities follow times of relative wealth, as the regional economic success has always been dependant on the changing markets.

In this context, the closeness to the sea mostly turned out to be a stimulator to the economy, the advantage of which was short distances between the manufacturer and the sales market. With an ever growing mobility of the European societies, in combination with the further development of infrastructure, this advantage is becoming increasingly counterbalanced. It is not astonishing that the rural areas of the Wadden Sea have been most strongly effected by the structural change, especially the agricultural sector during the last 20 years.
Traditional strategies of land use are becoming futile. As some farmers are trying to seek their advantage in turning to industrialized agriculture, an ever increasing number of small scale farms have to resign.

The following questions will have to be dealt with:

What is going to happen to these open areas?
What are the effects of the change on the natural environment ?

In addition to this, there is a development of the sea ports to “super-ports” with a more specialized infrastructure, which will also be effecting the land management.

How do we evaluate such a change? Can we strictly oppose? Does it have to be vigorously favored?

Considering such a background, universal answers are hardly convincing. Therefore all participants of this workshop were asked about what the areas under investigation will look like - in the year 2030. Furthermore, a worst case situation was compared with the formulated visions, also in order to develop strategies to work towards the vision.


  • With regard to the demographic development, the Wadden Sea Region will entail stable communities with perspectives for further development, more possibilities for individual decision making and a controlled land use.

  • The local people will identify themselves with their region.

  • The cultural heritage landscape will remain readable and will be sustainably managed. The invisible history will also get wide attention.

  • The extensive and sustainable land use will be in balance with nature and cultural heritage preservation.

  • Developments will consider buffer zones for the heritage, taking into account the typical openness and will, where ever possible, restore characteristic landscapes.

  • Tourism will be a small scale business and adapted to the local way of life. The focus will be more on recreational use than on adventure or competitive economic business.

  • In agriculture, a continuity of traditional farming, taking care of cultural and natural heritage, will be guaranteed. An emphasis will be laid on food quality and the production for the local market. Monocultures, scale enlargement and horticulture belong to the past.

In order to work towards the vision, the following strategies were recommended by the participants:


  • To attract the people staying in the region by providing sufficient economic perspectives and social as well as municipal facilities.

  • Promoting and supporting a sustainable regional economy. Local quality products, sustainable use of natural and cultural assets.

  • Integrated management through ICZM approaches

  • Financial support for small scale farming and landscape management.

4.3 Economic development and use (Workshop C)

The Wadden Sea Region is an area of great opportunities and potential for economic and ecologic developments. A variety of demands for utilization and protection have to be taken into account to aim at a sustainability approach. Harbor development, coastal protection, tourism and the utilization of wind energy, nature and cultural landscape protection are some examples to show the manifold interests in the region.

A sustainable approach for the utilization of the potential of the Wadden Sea region, and, therefore its sustainable development, is to analyze potential conflicts and to develop strategies for solutions. The Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) approach is supposed to be part of the common strategy. Experiences with ICZM in the framework of the Wadden Sea Forum (WSF) project show that this approach is a suitable strategy to further the economical development of the coastal zones while conserving its natural and cultural resources at the same time. 

Regarding economic development and use, sound planning instruments are re-quired. The relevant planning takes place on a municipal level, due to the commu-nity's sovereign planning rights. For these purposes, appropriate and proven instru-ments of planning and coordination are existing. For the sustainable use and pre-servation of the Wadden Sea Region’s cultural landscapes and heritage values, planning instruments with a broader approach are needed. The context of cultural entities, the common historical identity of the Wadden Sea Region and herewith, a cross border view, have to be integrated in the planning procedure. The traditional frame of competencies and participation should be exceeded to meet the requirements. 

At the beginning of the workshop, the participants considered a vision dealing with the situation of the cultural landscape and heritage in the year 2030. A second step was a brainstorm about strategies to achieve the vision.


  • The local people identify themselves with their region. Many cultural landscape and heritage elements will leave their marks in the region.

  • It will be widely recognized that the identification with the region is the most valuable capital.

  • Sustainable communities will shape the Wadden Sea Region, an emphasis will be laid on quality (living, products, recreation).

  • Sustainable tourism will be an important sector in the region and will be adapted to the local identity. No large infrastructure facilities will disturb the cultural landscape.

  • “Close to nature tourism” will have a big share in the tourism sector.

  • In the framework of a sustainable development of the region, different zones and buffer zones will be designated to balance priorities of e.g. nature/industry and towns/ agriculture.

  • Agriculture will be a small scale and environmental friendly business.

  • Rural areas will be considered as valuable regions with a sound protection status. The characteristics of these areas, the openness and other specific features of the marsh, will be better maintained.

  • Economical development and activities ensure the preservation of the landscape and heritage and will make use of the natural and cultural values for the development of the region.

  • Economy will be orientated ecologically and managed without a complex infrastructure.

  • Economic development will be based on innovation and regional resources. Regenerative energy will be extended to a “energy valley”, also using the tide as an energy source.

  • An integration of landscape and seascape with regard to integrated development and management will be undertaken.

In order to work towards the vision, the following strategies were recommended by the participants: 


  • Provision of education programs/facilities for locals and visitors for better information and knowledge about the area, natural development, cultural history and use.

  • Financial support for certain areas within the Wadden Sea Region to make a sustainable development and the use of the heritage possible.

  • Spatial planning should be carried out with an integrated approach, taking into account all relevant aspects and involving all stakeholders.

  • All relevant entrepreneurs, locals and politicians have to be involved in the development processes of the region which concern cultural landscape and heritage issues.

  • Increase of awareness of the unique landscape and cultural heritage to enhance the identity of the region.

  • Initiatives for regional programs to contribute to a healthy industry and to an innovative economy to keep the region vivid and alive. 

  • A strong integration of the social dimension in the development of the region and the beneficial use of the cultural heritage.

  • Strengthening of a sustainable regional economy by promoting local quality products. (labelling ?)