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Concepts for reducing the impacts of anthropogenic pressures and uses on marine ecosystems and biodiversity

Climate change and unsustainable use of coasts and seas not only affect the marine environment, but also human health and well-being, as humans and the ocean form a socio-ecological system.

Multiple anthropogenic interventions in nearshore marine ecosystems are increasingly leading to conflicts of use that require trade-offs. Cumulative stressors, which include nutrient and other inputs from agriculture, renewable energy development, use of coastal waters for sediment capping, shipping, pollution, and tourism, must be considered here and often run counter to bindingly formulated marine conservation goals.

Accordingly, the CREATE project aims to develop solution-oriented action knowledge to reduce the cumulative impacts of multiple uses on biodiversity in three real-world laboratories involving a broad group of stakeholders. To do this, bio-geo-physical data and modeling will be provided to improve coastal ecosystem assessment and management using the reallabs.

Providing social science analysis of formal and informal local governance structures and embedding them in national, European, and international policies will allow improved management methods to reduce the cumulative impacts of multiple uses.


Shipping and tourism are just two of the manyfold man-made pressures, that are adressed in the joint projectt CREATE - for a sustainable interaction with our seas. Photo: Silke Eilers, University of Oldenburg

In three work packages, CREATE will establish real-world laboratories (RLe) in the North Sea and Baltic Sea to generate practically implementable innovations to counteract multiple stressors using transdisciplinary methods.

Work package 1 forms the basis of the project and includes stakeholder mapping, co-design of the reallabs, and development of operational management objectives and concepts to reduce cumulative impacts of multiple uses and climate change. Work Packages 2 and 3 form the content pillars to generate recommendations for action in Work Package 1.

In doing so, WP2 fills necessary gaps in the analysis of the biodiversity and physical environment of RLe and their connectivity, while WP3 uses a multi-level approach to analyze existing governance structures and identify reform needs. Accordingly, the project consortium consists of natural and social scientists, economists, engineers, and societal stakeholders.

Through this multilateral approach, CREATE serves to generate concrete recommendations for action to achieve the formulated goals of marine nature conservation (among others the European Marine Strategy Framework Directive [MSFD], Natura 2000, German Sustainability Strategy, National Biodiversity Strategy [NBS]).

At the same time, we are educating capacity and building capacity in interdisciplinary marine sciences essential to the MARE:N themes of "Ecosystem Functioning and Biodiversity", "Sustainable Resource Use", and "Governance and Participation". CREATE will thus contribute to minimizing negative impacts on coastal and marine ecosystems and thus make human-ocean interactions more sustainable.

Project coordinator is Prof. Helmut Hillebrand of the Helmholtz-Institute for Functional Marine Biodiversity at the University of Oldenburg [HIFMB].


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