Josefine Gottschalk receives the BUND Research Award 2022 for her Master's thesis "Scratching Below Surface. Is the maritime spatial planning of the European Union ready for adequate marine conservation?” She wrote the thesis as part of her studies in Environmental Planning at Technische Universität Berlin. In her thesis, the young scientist points out that holistic marine protection is not sufficiently taken into account in the EU’s marine spatial planning.
In her work, Josefine Gottschalk specifically identifies the weaknesses of European marine spatial planning from the perspective of nature. Her conclusion: holistic marine protection has been given too little consideration in marine spatial planning up to now. As an example, the award winner examined the marine spatial planning of the German Exclusive Economic Zone in the North Sea and Baltic Sea and analysed various planning documents. She proves that both structural (biodiversity) and functional (ecosystem functioning) components of the natural marine environment play an insufficient role in the European Union's current marine spatial planning process. "This means that, on the one hand, biodiversity protection is not sufficiently taken into account in the planning. On the other hand, current European marine spatial planning does not ensure that marine ecosystems are maintained as intact habitats. That is a reason why it is so important to preserve the functionality of marine ecosystems and to create the space they need to evolve and to fulfil their most important functions, despite increasing human activities at sea," she says. In her work, Josefine Gottschalk also describes how a lack of biological and ecological marine data hempers ecosystem-based marine spatial planning. However, she also makes clear that marine protection must now be advanced in this sense – even without this knowledge and data.
With Josefine Gottschalk's Master's thesis, BUND has awarded research on a marine topic for the first time. “The honour underlines that sustainable spatial development is not only crucial on land, but also at sea. The oceans not only play an essential role in the global climate system. Due to human intervention, marine natural spaces are undergoing rapid change, but we hardly notice it,” says Prof. Dr Gerold Janssen, who is project leader at the IOER and responsible for research on marine spatial planning. “It is of the highest social relevance that we achieve sustainable spatial development at sea. Unfortunately, the trends are pointing in a different direction at the moment. But we still have the chance to learn from the mistakes once made in spatial planning on land. We can guide the transformation of marine space into a truly sustainable direction, as long as the change is still viable in the long term and environmentally compatible," says award winner Josefine Gottschalk.
With its Research Award, BUND aims to promote scientific commitment to sustainable and future-proof strategies. 46 papers were submitted for the 2022 Research Award. According to the BUND's press release (in German), they are proof that the realisation continues to prevail that the design of sustainable strategies can only succeed in interaction with ecology. The official award ceremony will take place in mid-November during BUND's national delegates' meeting. The Sustainability Award for Master's theses is endowed with 1,000 euros.
About the scientist