The rural district of Aurich in Lower Saxony is the northernmost district of Germany, bordering the Netherlands and the North Sea. Its natural environment is characterised by the Wadden Sea, by three islands off the coast and by more than 70km of coastline. Dominant habitats include coastal wetlands and inland moors and swamps. Large areas of the Aurich District are protected, the Wadden Sea National Park of Lower Saxony being only one example. In addition, large areas lie below sea level, both on the islands as well as a strip 2 and 15 km wide behind the mainland coast. Consequently, coastal protection has always played an important role in the district. Tourism and agriculture are the main economic activities with the economic importance of renewable energy production increasing.
Climate change is expected to result in sea level rise and seasonal increase of storm events and precipitation including more extreme rainfall events in winter. These projections are posing serious challenges for coastal protection (drainage of low-lying areas, risks of flooding from rivers and sea), water services, agriculture, conservation and tourism. The Coast Climate Project undertook an approach to implementing Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) in the District of Aurich, with the goal to come to more integrative and flexible solutions for coastal protection. Furthermore, the purpose of the project was to adapt existing planning frameworks to the challenges of competition for space between use functions, which is expected to be aggravated by climate change. Stakeholder participation in group interviews and workshops was used to identify conflicts of interest among use functions and to identify potential measures supporting the implementation of ICM. The project was funded by the German Agency for Environment and conducted by two institutes, Ecologic Institute (Berlin) and Raum & Energie. The project, focusing on the case study in Aurich, was carried out between January 2013 and February 2014 and resulted in a political decision concerning the implementation of concrete adaptation measures. The development of several concepts has been decided, as described below. Moreover the implementation process was initiated through strengthening existing networks for ICM and creating new ones.