|20 years ago: Landscape of the year “Oder Delta“ – what is left?|
by Ingeborg Pint
About 25 of the actors from 20 years ago had accepted the invitation, amongst them Herbert Brückner, honorary president of NFI and, at the time, project manager of the NFI Landscapes of the Year. I was working at the NFI office in Vienna at the time and responsible for the Landscapes of the Year − so I was pleased to go to the region again.
The Landscape of the Year gives ideas
Not everything that was triggered by the Landscape of the Year is as visible as the bridge in Kamminke/Wydrzany. People who remember the times however say that these important initiatives in the fields of tourism, transport, nature and environmental protection had come at the right time.
They feel that this commitment had been necessary at the time: initiatives for cross-border work in a historically sensitive region, coming from an international organisation − at a time when the "walls" between East and West had not long been gone.
The foundation Stiftung Odermündung Verein für nachhaltige Entwicklung e.V., founded after the termination of the project Landscape of the Year, completed its work in 2007. From then on, its work was continued and intensified by authorities, associations, organisations and initiatives. Naturefriends' work continues within the associations Inselfreunde Usedom, Deutsch-Polnische Gesellschaft Vorpommern e.V., Transnationales Netzwerk Odermündung e.V. and other organisations in which actors from the Landscape of the Year are still active.
Apart from the fact that on the island Usedom, at the famous seaside resorts on the coast of the Baltic Sea, there was investment into mass tourism offers, sustainable tourism was overall successfully developed a little further into the country as well as in the Oderhaff region.
A lot of the things Naturefriends had wanted to establish within the Landscape of the Year have now become self-evident: the Usedom Bäderbahn and Bäderbus (train and bus), the bicycle rental system Usedom-Rad which enabled infrastructure further into the island, two- and three-language information boards at natural and cultural sights or sustainable fishery, to cite just a few examples. Polish descriptions of bicycle tours around the island Usedom were elaborated by Naturefriends Poland, PTTK, and published by the city of Świnoujśćie; a bicycle tour guide about Świnoujście and its surroundings was published in German.
The tourism prize "EDEN Award 2010" awarded to the project "Vorpommersche Flusslandschaft" (Western Pomerania, an area which partly overlaps with the LoY 1993/1994) shows that the region is on the right path following the ideas and suggestions of the Landscape of the Year. The European Commission honours rising, little-known travel destinations with the "European Destination of Excellence" (EDEN) Award.
Not all developments have been transboundary, but, as says Renate Hilbert for Naturefriends Greifswald, "a barrier has disappeared, and people can approach one another, because it is desirable and convenient for both sides".
The current Landscape of the Year 2013/2014 Upper Rhine Valley aims to 'build bridges, both real bridges and mental ones, to promote long-term cross-border cooperation and exchange especially in the areas of environment, sustainable tourism and civil society'. Even after 20 years, the Landscape of the Year Oder Delta is an outstanding example that this can be achieved.
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