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You Should Know About Aquatic Sustainability - A Case Study From Denmark

Article by: Tatiana Sondej

A Case Study from the Blue Heart of Denmark

Picture this: crystal-clear waters, a gentle breeze blowing, and the thrill of the catch. Welcome to Naturpark Lillebælt in Denmark, where the Little Belt connects the brackish waters of the Baltic Sea with the salty sea of Kattegat. As you cast your line, you can feel the excitement building – will you catch a sea trout, mackerel, herring, or see colourful sea anemones? The water’s current is the most powerful current in the inner Danish waters, creating a unique environment for flora and fauna. However, with increased human activity and pollution, there has been a significant impact on marine life in the area. To address this issue, the park has implemented various sustainability measures and educational projects to ensure the long-term health and protection of its aquatic life. 

Naturpark Lillebælt’s Fight for Sustainability

One of the primary measures taken is the promotion of sustainable fishing practices, which includes limiting the number of fish caught and promoting the release of non-targeted species. The park has also established protected areas for breeding and feeding grounds to support the growth of fish populations. Another crucial initiative is the reduction of pollution by minimising the discharge of sewage and reducing the use of chemicals in agricultural practices. The park has also invested in educating the public on sustainable practices, such as responsible waste disposal and eco-friendly transportation. These initiatives have not only helped to preserve the aquatic life in Naturpark Lillebaelt but have also created a sustainable environment for the local communities and visitors.

The Belt in Balance Project

As Denmark’s largest marine nature park, Lillebælt is known for its great population of fish and whales. It is home to dense marine life and is a crucial area for coastal birds, providing a resting and breeding area. Despite this, Lillebælt’s ecosystem has been subject to pressure in recent years; the nature park has since launched three initiatives to aim for stability. The balance project was launched in June 2021 and the latest measure of progress was recorded in December the same year. The initiatives focus on the Porpoise Foundation, removal of waste from the waters, and minimising the crab population which puts the ecosystem at risk. So far, a huge amount of progress has been made to reach the park’s goals, and visitors are recommended to try Lillebælt’s famous crab soup to help save the ecosystem. 

Tours with Local Guides 

One of the many collaborations launched at Naturpark Lillebælt is the local guide program. This project gathers individuals with specific interests in Naturpark – they give guided tours and adventures to those keen on experiencing something new unique at Lillebælt. The guides are not park rangers so their take on the tours is unique, however they must take part in guide workshops which ensures professionalism and a high knowledge level. Visitors can experience several fascinating tours, such as an outing with a focus on the native species or a historical city walk in Fredericia. Many of the local guides have a special interest surrounding nature, so the tours are a fantastic opportunity to learn about Lillebælt’s sustainability. 

The Scout Badge 

In collaboration with Houens Odde Spejdercenter, Naturpark has created the Scout Badge. This is a badge that one can earn by participating in specific learning activities and gaining knowledge about the park. There are five different activities to choose from, including bird spotting, a cooking activity and a run around the park led by the Woop app. These activities immerse people into the wonderful nature that Lillebælt has to offer, and they provide crucial knowledge of the local environment and how to take care of it. Naturpark Lillebælt have even partnered with a local dyslexic continuation school, making the activities more accessible for dyslexic people. 

Projects and Grants 

Naturpark Lillebælt has several points set out to hit its sustainability goals, but how exactly is this being achieved? Since 2018, Naturpark has prioritised a total of nine current projects aiming to develop the park and the experience for visitors. One of the projects concentrates on providing more nature rooms and observation posts; this way, there are more opportunities for locals and tourists to learn about aquatic nature. This project is a great way to spread awareness of Lillebælt’s marine life and other coastal animal populations. The nature rooms are a fantastic attraction for families and children – Naturpark is an excellent place to let children experience the unique Danish outdoors first-hand. 

Environmental Education 

Another project in development is fully catered towards the education of children – the tours with school’s project aims to increase the number of tours held in Naturpark Lillebælt with local schools and researchers. This way, environment learning can be hands-on and much more fun. The park plans to spread the knowledge of sustainability, and how to keep aquatic life safe and healthy. The school tours project fits in well with the aim to make the historical areas surrounding Lillebælt more accessible and visible – the park has many fascinating sites available, such as embankments and flooded Stone Age settlements. 

‘Smag på Lillebælt’

‘Smag på Lillebælt’, meaning Taste the Lillebælt, is a project entailing food experiences made possible through the local sea gardens. The area is populated by a variety of fish and crab species, many of which are popular food sources in the area. The tasting experience is paired with information about local food sources in consideration to the surroundings. This project is a great way for those visiting to get a taste of local cuisine, but most importantly it is very good for the ecosystem as it decreases the overpopulation of crabs and provides balance.

Opportunities in Sustainability

Naturpark Lillebaelt provides an opportunity for individuals who want to support its efforts to promote sustainability to become partners (a tourism and experience operator). The goal of this initiative is to increase the number of nature parks in Denmark and the surrounding areas. Along with its present partners, Naturpark works to achieve its sustainability goals as effectively as possible. By prioritising the protection of the aquatic ecosystem, Naturpark Lillebaelt is setting an example for other regions around the world to follow, in the fight against the devastating effects of human activity on marine life. 

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