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Region in Balance

The greater their fields, the better the income opportunities for farmers in the district of Borken. The more diversified and generous the parkland, the more attractive the tourists find the region - and many people in the districtare living from tourism. What sounds so spectacular, is a real problem for planners and politicians in the district of Borken and in the town halls of the county's communities: Who should use the land in the region to what extent and in what way?

Sustainable land use management in the district of Borken

There are more and more " spaceusers " appearing in Borken such as families who prefer to build new houses in a green surrounding than living in the city center. Also renewable energies are increasingly, with increased use as requested by the North-Rhine Westphalia state government. But for whom should county and municipalities should decide for: more in favor of farmers or rather for tourism, recreation seekers, homebuilders or conservationists? And how to getcounty and municipalities work together instead of deliberately or unwittingly working against each other?

The "Region in Balance - Sustainable land use management in the district of Borkenin due consideration of climate change mitigation and adaptation" should help to ensure that the requirements of the various stakeholders are systematically included and mapped. At the same time principles and criteria shall be introduced on which politicy and administration can make decisions in the long run, and secure the future of the region in the mid and long term.

The project - a model for Germany

Funded by the Ministry of Environment of North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW) the Bonn Science Shop (project management) and the Regional Working Group Agenda 21 NRW established and implemented a land use management system in the Region of Borken. The sustainable land use management system was developed in a continuous two-year process involving both county and municipal administrations, policy and stakeholder groups from agriculture, conservation and the Agency 'Regionale 2016' (a state funded structural support program for regions). The project, which ran until spring 2013, entered new ground in several ways: It was the first time in Germany in which different levels of government - in this case the district of Borken and four of its municipalities - worked together on the subject of land use management. At the same time the project still put the emphasis on the use of the area. However, it did not narrow it down to this aspect alone, as because a land management that does not have climate protection and climate change in mind, would not be sustainable.

The process - step by step

Since the management of local area and the region as a whole should be "seamless", regional and local visions, goals and action programs have been repeatedly adjusted, adapted and further developed:

  • inventory of data and SWOT analysis: analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the Borken region and its four participating municipalities Raesfeld, Gescher, Gronau and Ahaus, deriving opportunities and risks for future development
  • Cross-future workshop for the entire region: Recommendations from the regional SWOT analysis, development of guidelines, objectives and first measures, Vision 2030
  • Municipal future workshops: conclusions from the municipal SWOT analysis, development of guidelines, objectives, first steps to develop goals and mission statements for the respective municipalities, taking into account the results of the cross-Future Workshop
  • Several workshops across the entire region for development of guidelines, objectives and actions for a joint action program for the region
  • workshops in their local communities to create implementation programs for the local land use management
  • Decision on the guidelines and the common action plans for the "Region in Balance" in the councils
  • The overall workshop results are always fed into the workshops of local authorities. Vice versa also communal goals and action programs fed into the overarching workshops to be, if necessary, adjusted or realigned
  • Implementation of the action plans in the context of a continuous improvement process, regarding the implemented objectives and measures
  • Transfer Conference and Consulting Events: Borken as a model for other regions and communities that want to install a land use and climate management system.

NRW completed pilot project with transfer session

Nowhere else in the Münsterland cultivitable land is as expensive as in Borken. A clear indication that especially in this region, competition for land is particularly high: farmers, entrepreneurs, families, recreation seekers - they all want space or areas outside the city, while in the city centers old buildings remain empty. Reason enough for the county and its four municipalities, to take part in the two-year pilot project. Administrator Dr. Kai Zwickerduring said in the final transfer session: "Our district of Borken is - at least in NRW - the only administrative district that addresses itself to the topic of land use management in such an intense way. I am very pleased that our project also finds nationwide recognition."

Once the need for land management in the minds

The result is impressive, said Eckhard Reis from NRW’s Ministry of Environment "., The district of Borken and the four municipalities Ahaus, Gescher, Gronau and Raesfeld are a model for other regions in NRW". An intelligent land use policy is requested,and new forms of cooperation on a voluntary basis. For the first time in NRW municipalities and a county cooperated to build a long-term land use management system. For two years representatives from politics, administration, economics, agriculture and nature conservation developed common guidelines and action programs for the district and the respective municipalities, which finally were adopted by the council. For Felix Büter, the mayor of Ahaus, this was one reason for the success: "In the course of the project we have involved many different actors such as agriculture and industry and reflected together on how we can harmonise the different interests. Thus, the council decision now has a sound basis that will help in the future. In addition, the process has helped to deal more intensivly with the interests of others.”

For Hubert Effkemann, mayor of the pilot municipality Gescher, the process has driven the city forward: "The understanding and the willhas grown that we have to make the centers more attractive and cannot furtherexpand the suburbs. We now need not to discuss it all over again." Also, the importance of the issue and the importance of internal development has arrived in the minds all levels. In Gronauone wants to encourage seniors to give up their big houses in favor of a smaller apartments or rental homes and also encourage families to venture to the renovation of old buildings. In addition, commercial wasteland shall be used for housing. Raesfeldmunicipality wants to encourage the use of vacant lots in the center. At the same time it will be respected everywhere that the centers now will not beobstructed but will be "greened" and that outdoor natural areas are not urban sprawl –to get the "Region in Balance".

Great interest from other municipalities and counties

110 participants came to the transfer meeting, which was held in SchlossRaesfeld, including mayors and planners from the district of Borken and neighboring counties. Dr. AnkeValentin, project manager from the Bonn Science Shop said: "This illustrates the particular need, to actively address the problems that will beintensified by declining space." In Borken district structures are now established to work systematically and together towards the balance of interests in the future.


Dr. Anke Valentin
(02 28) 201 61-23
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