CASE STUDY DESCRIPTION:The Curonian Lagoon is a coastal lagoon in the south-eastern Baltic Sea. It is a trans-national lagoon shared by Lithuania in the north and Russia in the south. Curonian spit (Neringa city municipality) is one of the most popular local and foreign tourist destinations in Lithuania. Tourism provides the major income for this region. Due to a short bathing season on the Baltic Sea coast, the highest concentration of tourists is in July and August. The municipality of Neringa has plans to open the bathing places on the Curonian Lagoon coasts, which could help to expand the tourism season and could lead to more sustainable tourism. Because of the shallowness of the lagoon, the waters usually warm up to approx. 18°C already in May, providing an opportunity to open a bathing place earlier and end it later, than on the Baltic Sea side. Still, the main concern for the beach or bathing place in the lagoon is the water quality.
- To carry out an analysis whether it is reasonable to establish beach/bathing sites at the Curonian Lagoon using the stepwise, user-friendly SAF approach, which includes an integrated Ecological-Social-Economic (ESE) assessment in close cooperation with stakeholders.
- Klaipeda University, Lithuania; Neringa city municipality.
ICZM tools applied within the case study:
- Systems Approach Framework (SAF), field sampling and numerical modelling.
Case study site highlights and experiences that can be exchanged:
- Systems Approach Framework (SAF), especially the Ecological-Social-Economic (ESE) assessment with intensive local stakeholder involvement, is a suitable approach to support municipalities to implement measures, in this case to establish a new beach;
- From our experience, it is important to develop a strategy for spatial down-scaling, as soon as the issue turns out to be too complex to be addressed within the timeframe and/or with the available resources and expertise. The focus on a fast solution at a local scale allowed a rapid process towards implementation;
- After the stakeholder mapping and before the first stakeholder meeting, interviews with major stakeholders could be beneficial. They would help a) to get an overview about the existing knowledge and perceptions, b) to get an awareness of existing conflicts and grown animosities that may become a problem for the ESE process and c) to be able to build upon previous approaches and management experiences;
- An unexpected result was the low interest of tourists in water quality and, compared to the Baltic Sea, a relatively positive impression of water quality in the lagoon. It seems that the lagoon is only of minor interest for tourists and the level of information about the lagoon is low.
- The availability of a spatial down-scaling strategy that allowed to reduce the complexity of the issue;
- A stable stakeholder group consisting of 10 representatives that attended 3 meetings and ensured the stakeholders to be part of a permanent (research) team, which ensured smooth communication between scientists and the stakeholder group and the development of joint knowledge and local ownership of the process;
- A stakeholder participation process of a relatively short duration lasting about 1.5 years and rapid implementation of a new beach;
- Ability to utilize existing models and data, which allowed to carry out model simulations and to visualize consequences of different scenarios at an early stage.
- The first stakeholder workshop revealed that the concept of an Integrated Coastal Zone Management was new to the stakeholders;
- Ecosystem Services were not identified during the process.
- Data is already partly available and models are established, as a result, this approach can easily and at low costs be transferred to other municipalities at the Lithuanian eastern coast of the Curonian Lagoon (e.g. Kintai, Dreverna or Svencelė) and Russian parts of the lagoon.
- Summer algal blooms;
- Lagoon is only of minor interest for tourists and the level of information about the lagoon is low.