Welcome to Plan Bothnia Final Conference 23 May 2012!

04/05/2012 at 20:07 | Posted in event | Leave a comment
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The PLAN BOTHNIA Final Conference & Future Collaboration on MSP in Europe
Date and Time: 23. May 2012 (9:00-16:30, lunch included, plus reception thereafter)

Venue: Museum of World Culture (Världskulturmuseet), Södra vägen 54, Gothenburg, Sweden.


The PLAN BOTHNIA project (2. Dec 2010- 1. June 2012) has concretely tested joint transboundary MSP in a larger area covering the Bothnian Sea, a part of the Baltic Sea between Finland and Sweden. The project has created and analyzed background material on activities and natural values, and developed a pilot plan for the offshore areas of the Bothnian Sea. The project’s final conference on May 23rd gives an opportunity to reflect on achievements so far and provides a platform to discuss future collaboration on MSP.

The morning session will take a closer look on the pilot plan as well as the process of drafting it. This will be the starting point for a wider, interactive discussion in the afternoon on the future of European MSP. For this purpose, Plan Bothnia cooperates with the Swedish Institute for the Marine Environment and a newly formed European MSP research network.

The aim is to identify important challenges for MSP and appropriate forms of collaboration to address them. Thus the discussions of the MSP related sessions- including the Plan Bothnia & Maspnose session 13:00 – 14:30 (Room 4: Foyer)- of the European Maritime Day 2012 (stakeholder day on 22. May) can continue towards concrete results, e.g. an action program or working groups for coming research calls.

The working language of the event will be English.

For catering purposes please register, preferably by 18 May 2012, through this link (http://goo.gl/xstwB)

Full programme and invitation is available from here.



A day of Plan Bothnia in Riga

08/02/2012 at 13:36 | Posted in event | Leave a comment
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Meeting room

People interested in Plan Bothnia and MSP

On Monday (6.2.2012) the Plan Bothnia project held a public event (“regional stakeholder meeting”) in Riga, Latvia -the home town of the project partner VASAB. The event was attended by 60 participants from ten countries. Besides presentations on recent and overall progress the event included Finnish and Swedish ministry experiences with Plan Bothnia, other projects as well the two consultancy studies commissioned under the project (Baltic MSP “best practices” & “minimum recommendations”). The event was intended to be an information event -enabling discussions around the regional Baltic Sea and European dimensions of the initiative. In my view this aim was reached in an excellent way.

After opening words by the Head of the VASAB Secretariat, Mr. Talis Linkaits, I provided an overview to the progress in the project. This covered the recent drafts of MSP plans discussed at the January project meeting in Stockholm, Sweden. After agreeing on final results the remaining MSP 5 meeting (end of March), the project will mainly prepare for its closing events (see below).

Project Officer Mr. Manuel Frias followed with an introduction to the open and transparent data and publicity practices of the project, including the state of the art Map Service which enables not only viewing -but also downloading -of all project GIS data. Through such tools Plan Bothnia tries to make its own contribution to break the barriers around access to concrete geographic data, which would enable e.g. the civil society to start forming its own opinions on offshore planning.

Sten and Tiina

Sten Jerdenius and Tiina Tihlman

The presentations of the representatives of Finland (Ms. Tiina Tihlman) and Sweden (Mr. Sten Jerdenius) underlined importance of the partnership within the initiative, carried out during the last year between the ca. twenty national and sub-national authorities from Finland and Sweden. The initiative was seen as a unique opportunity for the two countries and sub-national entities to orient themselves in the offshore aspects of MSP for future developments. They also highlighted the specific features of the Finnish and Swedish planning systems in the territorial sea, de-facto ongoing already for some decades, as well as on land.

As a personal note, these excellent presentations pointed indirectly also out the limited number of approaches highlighted in the recent EU related discussions around MSP. As an example the presented Northern European approaches to planning and MSP, with the possible exception of Norway, have received little publicity in EU circles. This is especially striking if compared to the attention on central -European approaches (e.g. Germany, Netherlands, U.K), which are also quite prominent in the regional Baltic Sea discussions. Without dismissing progress or merits of the approaches taken by these powerful countries it is, from a trans-boundary cooperation point of view, a bit disturbing how few perspectives  are available to MSP the countries in Europe, and the Baltic Sea, to start their work in developing MSP.

Dialogue on alternatives is needed as MSP, like any planning, is not about right and wrong approaches but essentially about issues like national interests and politics (foreign and internal), power and access to (or preservation of) resources- needless to say the explosive stuff wars have been fought on. Perhaps somewhat beside the point and heretic in the times of the common European market, but it is still an interesting fact that many of the strong industry players having interests and operating in areas like the offshore Bothnian Sea are not local but international, and commonly of central European origin. An example is the German wind power company WPD -with the major offshore development proposals in Finnish (Korsnäs) and Swedish (Storgrundet, Finngrundet) waters.

The peculiar features of the northern planning systems include the strong role of sub-national authorities (municipalities) and local democracy, as well as the decade-long history of the Ministries of the Environment as the Ministry responsible (fully or partly) for cross-sectoral planning issues. The latter has perhaps enabled better integration of environmental issues to planning, has not prevented a cross-sectoral approach and does seem to have been a problem for economic growth either. Nordic countries are after all among the few European countries with the highest credit ratings.


Martin Paastors-MASPNOSE (top), Mats Lindegarth-PREHAB (bottom) and Lachlan Cameron-Seanergy (right)

In addition to such northern perspectives presentations of three projects provided North Sea angles to MSP (MASPNOSE and Seaenergy) as well as highlighted recent progress on habitat modeling (PREHAB). The North Sea examples pointed out good practices but also some of the difficulties which transboundary MSP cooperation face in central Europe. The latter seems to indicate that the Baltic region has truly potential to be a world leading region in terms of trans-boundary MSP cooperation- despite evident differences in national approaches.

The two Plan Bothnia commissioned consultancy studies, conducted by Prof. Jacek Zaucha (PL) and Dr. Bernhard Heidrichs (DE), highlighted certain elements which they have characterised as “best practices” as well as “minimum requirements” of MSP. The reports have turned out as solid reports -even with the caveat that due to the nature of the task given by the project (defining “best” and “minimum”) some of the conclusions are naturally colored by the personal preferences and backgrounds of the authors. The valuable output of these consultants, to be finalised by 15 Feb 2012, will during the next months be considered also by the rest of the Plan Bothnia project partners with a view to agree on some joint input to the Plan Bothnia final report publication.

All in all the discussions during the day in Riga were lively and open -which is always welcome in an emerging issue like MSP where strong national views sometimes pull in different directions. These discussions will continue at the Final events of the Plan Bothnia project, to be arranged 22.May (application for a joint 1,5h Plan Bothnia-MASPNOSE event on transboundary MSP) and 23. May (full day Plan Bothnia final conference). The reader is warmly welcome.

Big thanks goes to VASAB Secretariat staff- Talis, Dzintra and Baiba for arranging a very successful meeting.

Hermanni Backer, Project Manager

Plan Bothnia in Szczecin (Poland)

24/11/2011 at 14:03 | Posted in event | Leave a comment
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On Tuesday 22nd project officer Manuel Frias gave a presentation in Szczecin (Poland) where he was invited to participate in a seminar called “Spatial planning in maritime and coastal areas”. The session he attended was about scientific data in maritime areas. After the round of presentation a lively panel discussion with many questions started. Among other topics the discussion was about:

  • Databases: where to find data, problems with non-public data, how to make them more accessible?
  • Metadata: need of a database for metadata?
  • Importance of visualization of data (“the power of maps” as prof. Jacek Zaucha pointed out): it is good to collect data but maybe more important it is to make that data understandable.
  • What is it needed to improve data collection.

Maritime patial Planning seminar in Szczecin

In general some of the ideas repeated more often were the need of cross-border cooperation – there are many MSP projects but the communication between countries is poor or non-existing. Secondly, the need of  an ecosystem approach was mentioned by several presenters. And finally the need of good quality, accessible and reliable data.

We thank the organizers for such a good seminar! And thanks for the nice pictures!

Plan Bothnia in Nordic dialogue on MSP

18/11/2011 at 14:06 | Posted in event | Leave a comment
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Plan Bothnia was also on the agenda during this weeks Nordic expert meeting on MSP (Ráðstevna um havið – 2030),  organised in Torshavn (Faroe Islands) as part of Nordic Council of Ministers cooperation. Ms. Tiina Tihlman (Ministry of the Environment Finland) presented our project to the conference participants and the initiative was also mentioned by Mr. Sten Jerdenius (Ministry of the Environment, Sweden).

Tiina Tihlman presenting Plan Bothnia

Tiina Tihlman (left) presenting Plan Bothnia

The good cooperation in the Baltic Sea was seen as a source of inspiration for the fledgling MSP cooperation in the west Nordic seas, the main topic of the meeting. This area includes marine jurisdictions of Iceland, Norway and Denmark (including Faroe Island and Greenland) and thus comprises a major part of the north-east Atlantic Ocean.

Planning for biodiversity conference

09/11/2011 at 17:32 | Posted in event | Leave a comment
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This week Monday and Tuesday we (Hermanni Backer and Manuel Frias)  attended a conference titled “Planning for Biodiversity”, organized as a part of the Polish EU presidency. In addition to the initial plenary session, starred by among others,  Francois Wakenhut (DG ENV), Haitze Siemers (DG MARE) as well as Eva Wenigová (DG Regio), the programme included during day 2 a special sesson on MSP chaired by Jacek Zaucha (associate professor at the University of Gdansk).

During the MSP session we presented the status of the Plan Bothnia planning (Hermanni Backer), slightly with a  special biodiversity angle, as well as our internet-based communication and data collection activities (Manuel Frias).


Our badges

The points taken home, from presentations or thought of by ourselves include:

  • The concept of Green Infrastructure, highlighted by DG ENV could be possibly be interesting for Plan Bothnia.
  • The importance of links to activities to land was again highlighted- one reason was that thinking more about the landside helps in defining the issues that can not be affected by MSP at sea.
  • Community-based planning information generation through mobile devices seems like an interesting way to activate people in data generation.
  • Many large European MSP projects close during the period 2012-2013, this will generate a large amount of information and literature on MSP.
  • Link between the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) process and MSP.

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