BalticRIM aims to integrate management of cultural heritage in and at the Baltic Sea into maritime spatial planning. Coastal and underwater cultural heritage such as ship wrecks and archaeological sites can help brand cities and regions, attract talent and foster tourism. Currently, such heritage sites are not systematically included in maritime spatial plans across the Baltic Sea. The project helps to identify and designate maritime cultural heritage zones by bringing heritage managers together with spatial planners.
The Baltic Sea region: a unique archive of the past
The cultural heritage of the Baltic Sea is outstanding even in a global comparison. It harbours treasures such as submerged landscapes from the Stone Age, an abundance of shipwrecks from centuries of intense trade and conflict, and beautiful coastal landscapes formed by women and men living with the sea. This heritage shapes the identities of the people in the region. But pressure on the sea and its coasts is rising: The Baltic Sea is one of the world’s most frequented water-bodies. Wind farms, aquaculture and mining are also claiming their share of the limited space. These activities can endanger the gems of our past.
How can spatial planning help preserving the maritime heritage?
Maritime Spatial Planning gives activities priority in certain marine areas in order to achieve a balanced development of the Baltic Sea. However, cultural assets are barely included in this planning so far. Heritage experts often don’t know what planners need. And planners often don’t know how to deal with important cultural places. BalticRIM wants to fill this gap. It aims at developing common standards and instruments for finding, evaluating and then integrating valuable areas of cultural heritage into planning. Its ultimate goal is not only the protection of archaeological sites or buildings, but also an increased planning security. Heritage and planning practitioners as well as other groups working with the sea collaborate closely on examples that show good practice.
How can maritime cultural heritage be used for sustainable development?
The result to be expected of this collaboration is a multitude of new information and insight into the marine heritage of the Baltic Sea region. BalticRIM also helps tap this knowledge to an economic end. Examples from the local level will explain how e.g. tourists or divers can profit from historical buildings, shipwrecks or landscapes underwater or along the coastline.
Where the past meets the future
The European Commission has selected BalticRIM as a project under the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018. This initiative encourages more people to discover and engage with Europe's cultural heritage, and reinforces a sense of belonging to a common European space. Using the Baltic Sea as an example, BalticRIM helps to understand how closely intertwined our European cultural heritage is with the seas surrounding and connecting the continent.
Highlights by mid-term:
The partners drafted planning principles on how to work with underwater maritime heritage when discussing the use of the marine space. Experts from the archaeological heritage and spatial planning sectors, tourism agencies, museums, traditional maritime community as well as scuba-divers tested these planning solutions in pilot areas. Among these pilots areas there were Flensburg Fjord in a Danish-German case, Gulf of Finland in a Finnish-Estonian case, Schleswig-Holstein's maritime cultural heritage in Germany, the Oeresund and the Bay of Koege from Denmark, South-Eastern Baltic in Russia, relict forest area in Lithuanian Klaipeda, and Puck Lagoon & Gulf of Gdansk in Poland.
The partners continued working with the pilots showcasing synergies between maritime cultural heritage and blue growth in coastal and marine areas. The State Archaeology Department of Schleswig-Holstein took the initiative to work on a concept paper to save a historical wreck from scrapping, which recently sunk in the harbour of Flensburg. It could be relocated it to a designated coastal area where it could serve as an underwater attraction for divers.
The Finnish Heritage Agency, Metsähallitus Parks & Wildlife Finland and the Russian Museum of World Ocean in Kaliningrad started cooperation on stone quarries and their underwater heritage.