“Affinity” coastal governance in Germany

  The sea and islands of Germany are only in the northernmost part of Germany. The coastline of Germany is about 2389 kilometers, which is not too long among European countries, and is also divided into two parts: east and west: the eastern coastline faces the Baltic Sea, and the western coastline faces the North Sea.
Landscape of the North Sea and the Baltic Sea

  The North Sea facing the northwest of Germany is a violent and fickle sea, and the sea has repeatedly invaded the land along the coast of the North Sea. For hundreds of years, people living on the coast of the North Sea have fought against the sea, and built large and small dykes and canals along the coast. It is through their protection and flood discharge that these places have the possibility of living. .
  The famous North Sea Shoal in Germany is a creation of tidal fluctuations, covering an area of ​​9,000 square kilometers. Almost the entire North Sea Shoal is listed as a national park protection. It is named after the Schleswig-Holstein National Park, which is adjacent to Denmark. The Hamburg National Park in the city and the Lower Saxony National Park in the south are composed of 3 parts, which are “World Natural Heritage” determined by UNESCO. Due to the unique atmosphere of the shallows, it has become a popular holiday destination.

Rügen, Germany’s largest island, is world-famous for its white sandy beaches and characteristic beach chairs.

Most of the coastal areas in Germany are tidal flats, and the water level in the coastal waters is relatively shallow, which is very unfavorable for the development of shipping, but it has also unexpectedly become a paradise for many lives.

  The largest island in Germany, Rügen in the Baltic Sea is world-famous for its white sandy beaches and characteristic beach chairs. Here you can also see the famous chalk rocks and reed-roofed fishermen’s huts. The coast of the island of Usedom has Germany’s longest beach – nearly 42 kilometers long, the flat St. Peter-Ordinger beach all year round A variety of competitions, music and large-scale events are held, attracting tourists from all over the world to join in the carnival.
  Compared with the beautiful Mediterranean coast, the German seaside is not the most attractive, but for Germans, the German sea plays an irreplaceable role. There are many bathing beaches along the coast of Germany, with sound facilities and convenient transportation. In addition, various events are often held along the coast, such as the Sailing Festival in Kiel. Germany’s North Sea coast is also a well-known health resort.
The advantages and disadvantages of many tidal flats

  It seems counterintuitive that Germany’s economy is prosperous, but the coastal regions seem to be less developed than the inland regions. Why is this happening?
  First of all, the natural conditions are unsatisfactory, and almost the entire coastal area is in the tidal flat zone. These tidal flats block the river channels and make the water level in the coastal waters shallow, which is very unfavorable for the development of shipping, and large ships cannot even enter the port. Affected by the tidal flats, the two major ports in northern Germany, Hamburg and Bremen, can only be used mainly as inland ports, and there is no way to give full play to the value of their ports.
  However, these tidal flats have also unexpectedly become a paradise for many lives. For example, the North Sea Shoals National Park is home to about 10,000 species of animals, plants and microorganisms, many of which are endemic to the region; tens of millions of migratory birds are welcomed here every year, most of them flying from South Africa to Northern Siberia and Canada Stopped here on the way.
  Secondly, when you open the map, you can see that the unfavorable geographical conditions also limit the way for Germany to “go out” from the sea, resulting in the fact that although Germany is “facing the sea”, the coastal side is actually very “blocked”. situation. Compared with the coastal areas, the German inland areas are fully integrated into the European economy by virtue of the advantages of relatively abundant natural resources and proximity to trading countries. Therefore, Germany has formed a special pattern in which the inland areas are far more prosperous than the coastal areas.
The Rise and Fall of Urban Leagues: A Hanseatic Past

  The beginning of the 13th century was the period of the Holy Roman Empire. During this period, the interests of businessmen could not be well protected. Therefore, businessmen from trading cities had no choice but to form alliances based on cities for mutual benefit. It all started with the partnership between Lübeck and Hamburg – in 1210, the two cities reached an agreement with each other to use a common civil and criminal law; in 1231, the two cities submitted a covenant. So far, the prototype of the “Hanseatic League” has been formed.
  Due to the relative lack of materials, the Nordic region is more dependent on commodity exchanges. If the import of commodities is not guaranteed, the financial level of the entire country and people’s living standards will be affected; for Western Europe, northern Europe is an important market. Therefore, Lübeck and Hamburg have naturally become the hubs of the exchanges between the two places, and a stable trade relationship has been quietly formed.
  With the expansion of power and the development of the Chamber of Commerce, the city alliance initially formed by Lübeck and Hamburg quickly grasped the trade of the Baltic Sea outlet, and almost reached a monopoly position on the east coast of the Baltic Sea, controlling the salt in this area. industry, transportation and other important industries. As a result, other cities joined the alliance one after another, such as Cologne and Bruges at that time. Through the integration of the alliance, the resources of different cities and the routes between cities have been well optimized, and the entire trade chain operates more efficiently.
  As new cities were added, the Hanseatic League became more and more influential. In the decades that followed, cities along the trade routes between East and West united in alliances. In 1356, the Hanseatic League convened its first confederate parliament in Lübeck, marking its becoming a reality.
  At this time, it is necessary to mention a special life – herring. Because of its cheapness and freedom from Catholic fasts, herring became a very popular food among the inhabitants of the Baltic Sea and was in great demand at the time. However, the herring industry involves many links – from the production of fishing nets to the fishing of herring, to various transportation and processing, and finally to the final sale. In order to run all these smoothly, it needs to be based on a set of developed collaborative mechanisms. , which needs to rely on a strong business organization to maintain. The formation of the Hanseatic League catered to this demand, and businessmen gained a lot of benefits from it and completed the primitive accumulation of capital. In the rapid development of the herring industry, the related food processing industry, handicraft industry, shipbuilding industry, etc. have been driven, and the development of these industries has driven the consumption demand of the North Sea and the Baltic Sea coastal areas.
  Under the nourishment of the booming industry, the Hanseatic League grew stronger day by day. At the same time, the military threat from Denmark in the north and Brandenburg in the south is also increasing. After hundreds of years of development, the Hanseatic League has long ceased to be a mere commercial alliance, but evolved into a “political-military” alliance. Later, the Hanseatic League began to build a navy and had its own fleet.
  The increasingly powerful Denmark is located on the Jutland peninsula between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. The Danes controlled the main communication route between the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, which threatened the monopoly of the Hanseatic League; due to being surrounded by the Hanseatic League, Denmark had to rely on the support of the Hanseatic League in foreign trade, and the Danes did the same Facing the dilemma of limited development. Thus, the war broke out.

  In 1362, the Danes won the initial victory and forced the Hanseatic merchants to sign the “Treaty of Woldingborg”, and the privileges of the Hanseatic merchants were largely deprived. Five years later, the Hanseatic League, unwilling to accept the treaty, reorganized the fleet and formed an alliance with Sweden. This time, the combined forces of the Hanseatic League and Sweden defeated the combined forces of Denmark and Norway, and Denmark was forced to sign the Treaty of Stralsund. In the treaty, the merchants of the Hanseatic League even had the veto power over candidates for the Danish throne. Subsequently, Norway and Poland also succumbed to the Hanseatic League and signed a series of unequal treaties; the British king even mortgaged the crown to Hanseatic merchants more than once in exchange for loans, or borrowed fleets and seamen from its central bank.

In the Middle Ages, because of its cheapness and freedom from the restrictions of Catholic fasts, herring became a very popular food for the residents of the Baltic Sea. At that time, the demand was very large. The formation of the Hanseatic League catered to this demand, and the herring industry developed rapidly.

On April 4, 2022, the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Federal Ministry of the Environment reached an agreement to determine that in the future Germany will accelerate the development of wind power in a way that is “compatible with nature conservation”.

In Lübeck, the head of the Hanseatic League, the large-scale Gothic red-brick church has survived from the Middle Ages to the present, telling the strength and glory of the past.

  At its peak, more than 160 cities participated in the Hanseatic League, and the city emblems of these cities can still be seen on the current Lübeck City Hall. But in the final analysis, the Hanseatic League was an organization centered on commercial purposes, and its core mission was to obtain commercial privileges rather than political rights. Such an organization was relatively loose and was doomed to an unsustainable destiny. Under the catalysis of monopoly and blockade, the Hanseatic League, which started from pioneering, gradually moved to the extreme of closedness. When the concept of the nation-state in Europe gradually emerged, Hanseatic merchants began to be boycotted by governments and businessmen of various countries, and the once-bright Hanseatic League eventually declined.
coast and energy

  Germany is not rich in fossil energy, so the development and utilization of new energy is very important for Germany. The German coastline has unexpectedly brought “opportunities” for Germany in terms of new energy.
  On the coast of the German North Sea, more and more wind turbines have appeared, and many households have jointly invested in and built collective wind farms. The energy captured by these wind farms can not only meet their own electricity needs, but the excess electricity can also be sold to the national grid for profit.
  Today, the German coast has the largest number of new wind turbines in Europe. Since the 1980s, many regions have not even been as profitable as wind energy in agriculture.
  In fact, the capture of wind energy by the Germans has advanced from the coast to the far sea and even the deep sea. “Floating offshore wind power” is a novel way of wind power generation, which relies on a wind power generation device fixed on a floating object. Unlike traditional wind power generation, this device can move freely, and can be dismantled and installed. They are able to adapt to the impact of offshore wind, waves and currents, and go to deeper waters for energy capture. The captured energy can provide energy security for ships, submarines, etc.
  Germany is one of the first countries to carry out research on floating offshore wind power. From the policies and regulations promulgated by the German government, such as the Offshore Wind Power Act, the Renewable Energy Law, and the Energy Planning Outline for 2050, it can be seen that the government attaches great importance to offshore wind power. research and development. The Germans’ emphasis on the utilization of renewable resources has not only explored new ways for energy collection and utilization, but also laid an excellent foundation for protecting the coastal environment.
Guarding the “natural” way

  In the protection of coastlines, Germany has always been at the forefront of the world. Germany promotes the “affinity” form of coastal protection, which is an advanced concept. The “affinity” here is actually “go with the flow” – almost all measures are to help the environment maintain or restore to a “natural” state. In Germany’s coastline management concept, unless the coastline continues to retreat, it will endanger coastal villages and towns, or the arrival of storm surges may cause cliffs to collapse, or no special protection is provided.
  For example: in the relatively gentle coastal part of the Baltic Sea, Germany’s protection principle is to protect according to the existing coastline. The protection method is generally to cultivate a continuous “dune chain” through “artificial sand filling” to form a protection line along the coast; or use natural materials to build some revetment facilities. In the coastal lagoons and backwaters, the management is carried out in a “going with the flow” method, and only the “eroded” areas are regarded as the source of sediment for other areas, and no special treatment is given.
  In Germany’s coastal protection work, the “dune chain” is a very important layer of defense. On the German coastline, naturally formed dunes are in the minority, and many more are cultivated. On the basis of the original sandy coast, a large number of sand-fixing plants are planted. After these plants grow, they can capture the sand source and form aeolian dunes; after the dunes are formed, some shrubs are planted to “protect the slope” to prevent churn. The “dune chain” formed in this way is a close-to-natural and solid and reliable barrier for the coast. Many dunes can still withstand the storm surge alone without the assistance of other dikes.
  Germany’s “affinity” in managing the coast is also reflected in the materials used for revetment facilities. On the coast of Germany, “spurs” made of wood and breakwaters made of stone are very common. The materials of these facilities are taken from nature, and if they are damaged or discarded, they will hardly cause harm to the environment.

In some small towns near the North Sea Shoals, there are also beach races held every year.

Revetments made of natural materials such as wood and stone are very common on the German coast.

Schlei Bay, the most beautiful bay in the German Baltic Sea.

In Germany’s coastal protection work, the “dune chain” is a very important layer of defense. On the basis of the original sandy coast, people plant a large number of sand-fixing plants to prevent the loss of sand dunes.

  On the Baltic Sea coast, you can also see a “movable” sea wall – in fact, part of the wall is made into a moving channel. They look flat and short, and will not block people’s sight to the sea; on the periphery of various seaside buildings, if the space for building large facilities is not enough, it is very suitable to build such a simple and lightweight seawall . During the season when the storm surge disappears, people can enter and exit the sea through these channels; when the storm surge comes, people can close the mobile seawall to resist the invasion of the storm surge.
  In the construction of revetment facilities, the ideas of the Germans are advanced and creative; in the protection of coastal ecology, Germany is also at the forefront of the world. Germany is a country that has always attached great importance to ecological protection and is also one of the most important international agreements on the protection of biological diversity.
  Facts have also proved that Germany’s measures to protect the coastline are effective. According to observations in recent years, common seals, beavers and other species that were originally relatively rare are becoming more and more common on the German coastline, and more and more endangered seabirds use the eastern bays of Germany for feeding, overwintering, moulting, migration and rest. More and more wild animals have settled in coastal areas, and the trend of biodiversity loss has been significantly eased.
  However, due to climate warming, the sea level of the North Sea and the Baltic Sea has risen significantly in recent years, and the intensity of storm surges has become more and more exaggerated, which poses a considerable threat to estuaries and low-lying coastal areas. The adverse changes in climate also bring challenges to the migration and survival of various animals such as birds and marine mammals on the coastline. For now, the threat of climate change remains a conundrum for Germans.