Regional Identification and Sustainable Tourism in the Nature Park Wildeshauser Geest (Lower Saxony, Germany)

By Moritz Engbers

The dissemination of results is a fundamental aspect of transdisciplinary research. That also holds true for the transdisciplinary projects of the master of sustainability science at Leuphana. Two groups of the transdisciplinary master project “Case Study Oldenburg” presented their results on 11 and 12 April in Hatten and Bassum in the Nature Park Wildeshauser Geest (NPWG). Both presentations were part of a meeting by representatives of the administration of the NPWG as well as mayors and tourism representatives of the municipalities. The administration of the NPWG is working on a plan for the development of the nature park in the comming 10 years. The aim of the student’s presentation was to discuss the results of the transdisciplinary research and possible recommendations for the development of the NPWG.

The first presentation was focusing on the self-understanding of the association of the NPWG. The municipalities as members of the nature park association have quite different understandings about the purpose and goals of the nature park. They are ranging from tourism to nature protection as a major task. A challenge for the future will be to develop a joint understanding of the tasks and goals of the NPWG. The second presentation was about the role of sustainable tourism for a sustainable regional development within the NPWG. The results show that there is no shared understanding of tourism in the nature park. By developing a joint understanding of sustainable tourism and by strengthening the knowledge exchange and collaboration between the administration of the NPWG, the municipalities and tourism providers can contribute to a more sustainable regional development. Afterwards, two representatives from the administration of the NPWG highlighted the recent status of the NPWG with regard to the federal guidelines and explained the further process of the development of an updated plan for the nature park. The transdisciplinary master project was able to provide valuable studies for the further process and important impulses for the discussions. Especially the perspective of the students as “outsiders” was highly appreciated.

The transdisciplinary master projects are running for two semesters. The overall aim is to experience a transdisciplinary process from the definition of a research question and the development of relationships with cooperation partners to the presentation of results. The mentioned transdisciplinary master students project is following up on the guiding question of how nature parks can be potential leverage points for a sustainability transformation in the region of Oldenburg. The results show that nature parks can contribute to a sustainable regional development with regard to sustainable tourism and the identification of actors with the nature park. However, they are based on a quite broad definition in the Nature Conservation Act in Lower Saxony. Furthermore, they are implemented in very different ways in Germany. Nature parks can play an important role as facilitators and organizers within regions that can bring interests and actors together.

The next event within the transdisciplinary case study in the district of Oldenburg will be the Climate Fair in Wildeshausen on the 29 April. The Leverage Points project will be present with a stand together with the artecology_network. The Climate Fair is part of the Spargelfest in Wildeshausen as an important regional event in the capital city of the Oldenburg district.

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