Participation is valuable, but participation evenings are rarely inspiring.On the island of Terschelling, they did things differently: with covered wagon excursions, workshops and a symposium.
The “Boschplaat”, the unique island salt marsh on the eastern tip of Terschelling, has lost its natural dynamics and is becoming rougher. It has long been known that something has to be done.
“In the past, it has sometimes been suggested to make holes in the “Stuifdijk”, says Joeri Lamers. “But then there was fierce criticism, because this dike was once built by the islanders themselves. It is cultural history”!
What now? “We were fortunate that little was laid down in Natura 2000 about the “Boschplaat”, only that a vision for the future had to be drawn up. This gave us the opportunity to have discussion with the islanders beforehand. We went outside, where there is literally room for discussion: even people who usually stay in the background do take the floor outside.
Eleven excursions were organised with a total of 350 participants. “On the ‘Boschplaat’ we were able to explain the content of various possibilities. From a high dune we were also able to show drifting and fixed dunes and asked: what do you like better? It was surprising that many people now saw a hole in the “Stuifdijk” as a serious option to create more dynamic
In addition to the excursions, workshops and a symposium on coastal management, birds and cultural history were organised. “For example, our landscape historian has told us that cultural history is not static. This can also apply to the “Stuifdijk”. That idea did land. I noticed that people wanted to increase their knowledge”.
The ‘Boschplaat’ approach requires a lot of patience and communication skills. “We started with it two years ago. You have to communicate clearly about your goal and the preconditions. There is a lot that can be done within this framework. For example, grazing was not at the top of our wish list, but it was among the islanders. Now we go for drifting dunes, flooding and grazing”.
The ‘Boschplaat vision’ is widely supported. It’s not finished with that. There are all kinds of initiatives to keep the islanders involved. For example, we are going to train islanders as bird wardens. We also have an education program for children from Terschelling with an overnight stay on the ‘Boschplaat’.
It has really become a way of working!
The Boschplaat is awarded with the European Diploma for Protected Areas.
see also: https://www.coe.int/en/web/bern-convention/european-diploma-for-protected-areas
Joeri Lamers, Terschelling