Development of principles and recommendations in the fields of Marine Spatial Planning (MSP), nature conservation and nature protection legislation in order to incorporate the Ecosystem-Based Approach (EBA) into the spatial planning of OSPAR and HELCOM marine waters as well as the German EEZ.


Conservation can be integrated into spatial planning processes on the basis of scientific findings. The seas fulfil numerous essential functions for humans by providing food, transport services and recreational opportunities. For some time now, the North and Baltic Seas have been exploited for the production of the renewable energy resource "wind", for which the marine environment offers ideal conditions (ARL 2013: 13). Other important functions are the production of oxygen and regulation of the climate. On the other hand, the seas can be regarded as a sensitive network of ecosystems. Mankind’s ongoing exploitation of the seas places marine ecosystems at some risk. For this reason, Marine Spatial Planning is currently being promoted as an important instrument to reconcile existing and future uses with the aims of marine conservation. The objective of this project is to determine how the concerns of marine

In the meantime, Germany has gained practical experience in MSP through the regulations determined by the spatial development plans of its coastal states (Länder) as well for the German Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the North and Baltic Seas. In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the second generation of maritime spatial plans has already been drawn up while the plans for the EEZ are also to be updated. Approaches and methods of MSP are also being discussed and further developed within various transnational bodies (EU MSP Expert Group, HELCOM-VASAB MSP WG, OSPAR ICG MSP, ICES WKMCMSP) as well as within the scientific discourse (e.g. MSP Research Network; Academy for Spatial Research and Planning (ARL)).

Project aim

The aim of the R&D project is to develop scientific principles and recommendations for spatial planning, nature conservation and conservation legislation in order to establish transnational Marine Spatial Planning as well as to facilitate the application of the Ecosystem-Based Approach to MSP procedures.

A further aim is to feed the results of the project into national Marine Spatial Planning as well as into the international discourses on MSP. At the national level, this includes, in particular, monitoring the updating of the spatial development plans for Germany’s EEZ. At the international level, the knowledge gained will serve as a basis for cooperation as well as to harmonize ecosystem-based spatial development plans. In this way the project will contribute to ensuring the sustainable use of the oceans, an integrated maritime policy and, in particular, the protection of the marine environment while implementing national policies and meeting international, European and regional requirements.

Research questions

The core question of the R&D project is: How can we strengthen the implementation of the ecosystem approach in national and international maritime spatial planning processes and plans? Here the focus is on expanding the insights gained from the two completed R&D projects "MSP-Int" and "MSP-FABENA" (also BfN projects) on the implementation of the ecosystem approach and transferring these from Germany’s EEZ to the OSPAR and HELCOM marine waters. In particular, with regard to the requirements of the ecosystem approach, the project will investigate the likely benefits of a kind of "landscape planning in the EEZ", the database requirements for a comprehensive implementation of the Ecosystem-Based Approach, the necessary connectivity between ecologically valuable areas as well as a possible adaptation of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). In addition, initial strategies will be developed to allow an extension of spatial planning regulations for the protection of marine nature to the "Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction" (ABNJ) of the high seas.

In order to expand and deepen the scientific discourse, an international event is planned on the integration of nature conservation concerns into Maritime Spatial Planning as well as the implementation of the ecosystem approach.

The Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development is jointly funded by the federal government and the federal states.

FS Sachsen

This measure is co-financed by tax funds on the basis of the budget approved by the Saxon State Parliament.