On our way to balance use of land-sea resources in the Southwestern Kurzeme coast (Latvia)

The demonstration case at the Southwestern Kurzeme coast of Latvia aims to support the sustainable development of coastal area by balancing the interests of renewable (wind) energy production at sea with the development of coastal tourism, preservation of landscape value and environmental quality. In 2020 Baltic Environmental Forum-Latvia experts had performed the biophysical mapping and assessment of coastal landscapes as well as continued to work on stakeholder involvement, experts’ consultation, desk studies and information collection.

Beach at Southwestern Kurzeme coast near Liepaja

View on the beach near Liepāja. Sorce: BEF Latvia, 2020

Although Covid-19 virus and related travel and events organisation restrictions in Latvia caused some initially planned project events and activities in the spring season of 2020, nevertheless the summer was very successful and productive in the terms of field survey work in the demonstration case. Or it would be better to use the term “sea” survey work – team of the Baltic Environmental Forum-Latvia experts sailed 100 nautical miles (approximately 120 km) with the yacht “Ariadne”, its captain and assistant captain in 3 days (July 27-29, 2020) on the  route from Pāvilosta-Labrags-Liepāja-Lithuanian border back to Liepāja-Pāvilosta, assessed 18 coastal landscape areas, documented them, performed the photo fixation and verification of the identified coastal landscape units (photo gallery). All the obtained data are sorted, analysed, and serves to the Baltic Environmental Forum experts as an important component of the biophysical mapping and assessment of coastal landscapes at the Southwestern Kurzeme coast of Latvia.

BEF Latvia team standing next to yacht

Baltic Environmental Forum team with the yacht team. Source: Source: Baltic Environmental Forum Latvia, 2020

At the end of summer 2020 the 2 online surveys were prepared, and stakeholders were invited to fill them. Online questionnaire with 34 questions-statements was sent to the stakeholder group (Augusts-September 2020) to support the scenario building.  To identify the significant sites for recreation and tourism the Participatory GIS method using ArcGIS Online platform was applied (September 2020), collected 80 sites as well as information on suitability of the sites for different recreational activities.

On September 25, 2020, the 2nd local face-to-face meeting “Balancing use of land-sea resources in the southwestern Kurzeme coast” was held in Liepāja city (photo gallery). It was a truly effective and productive meeting with wide range of stakeholders to discuss the possible options for offshore wind energy and tourism development in Southwestern Kurzeme, exploring spatial limitations and opportunities; identification of potential pathways or scenarios for achieving the target values for 2050 regarding offshore energy production as well as potential for tourism development. Stakeholders also provided their intuitive impact assessment of the proposed scenarios.

People by the table atv stakeholder seminar in Liepaja 2020

Group of experts at local face-to-face meeting in Liepāja. Source: Baltic Environmental Forum Latvia, 2020

Gained results, data, local experts’ knowledge, collected information will be used to formulate visions and strategic objectives as well as spatial solutions for development and balanced use of land-sea resources in the demonstration case area at the Southwestern Kurzeme coast of Latvia. This will be the focus and challenge for the Baltic Environmental Forum-Latvia experts’ team in 2021.    

Read more about Latvian case - trade-offs and balanced use of land-sea resources here.

Prepared by Dace Strigune (Baltic Environmental Forum Latvia) /December 2020/