Metageographies and Spatial Frames: Coastal Management as Situated Practice in the International Wadden Sea Region (09/2016-01/2020)

Coastal management constitutes an ever-present and challenging task for coastal communities across the world. Coastal landscapes occupying the interface between land and sea are characterised by particular and evolving relations between society and nature and characterised by complex interactions between geophysical, ecological, economic and socio-cultural processes. They are imbued with cultural and natural values and associated with diverse and at times contested rationalities of coastal and nature protection. Theoretically informed understanding of the relationships between coastal communities and their environments remains limited. In particular, there is an evident need for situated perspectives which explicitly recognise the diversity of coastal places and associated embedded practices of coastal management.
This research project introduces a novel, innovative approach to addressing the spatial dimensions of coastal management and the implications of particular spatialities on coastal management practices. Taking seriously the proposition that coexisting heterogeneity, multiplicity and diversity is a constitutive feature of spatiality, the project will firstly examine the extent to which coastal management practices are regionally embedded and situated within the coastal landscape. Through comparative case study analysis the research will identify similarities and dissimilarities in coastal management practices across the Wadden Sea and assess the extent to which dissimilarities are associated with local and regionally-specific cultures of practice and landscape characteristics. Secondly, recognising the socially constructed nature of space as well as the structuring role of spatialities in social relations the research will examine the role of embedded spatialities in the collective construction of coastal landscapes and practices of coastal management.
Two comparative cross-border case studies, located at the Dutch-German and Danish-German borders constitute the empirical focus of the research. The project will (a) identify the principal SIS of coastal management within each case study area and their associated actor constellations, normative principles and cultures of practice; (b) identify the influence of material spatial practices on the social construction of the Wadden Sea coastal landscape identify (c) examine the role of metageographies as powerful spatial structures underlying the institutional structuring of coastal landscapes and coastal management practices; (d) identify, classify and critically examine processes of spatial framing and resultant spatial frames and their roles within the discursive context of specific sectoral-institutional systems; (e) examine the extent to which the spatial separation of nature and culture in discursive and material structures influences the conceptual separation of nature and culture within the wider institutional contexts of coastal management and nature protection.

Soft Spaces, Spatial Planning and Territorial Management in Europe (2011-2013)

This academic research project is concerned with the emergence and characteristics of forms of non-statutory spatialities (soft spaces) in Europe. The project includes both city-regional and cross-border case studies, located in Germany, France, the UK, Netherlands, Denmark and Ireland.  The project is led by Prof. Joerg Knieling and Dr Frank Othengrafen at HafenCity University Hamburg. It is funded by the Research and Science Foundation of the City of Hamburg. Dr. Walsh is directly involved in the case studies of the island of Ireland, Fehmarnbelt region (Northern Germany and Denmark) and Hamburg Metropolitan Region as well as the comparative analytical and conceptual work of the project.

Sustainable Land Management (Nachhaltiges Landmanagement) (2012-2013)

This applied research project seeks to develop innovative solutions for sustainable land management in Germany, based on international experience and emerging research approaches. It is a sub-project of the Sustainable Land Management (Nachhaltiges Landmanagement) Research Programme funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research. The sub-project involves the preparation of a discussion paper and organisation of two expert workshops.

ESPON KITCASP: Key Indicators for Territorial Cohesion and Spatial Planning (2012-2013)

This project is ESPON project focuses on the development and application of indicators for territorial cohesion in five European countries: Scotland (UK), Ireland, Basque Country (Spain), Iceland and Latvia. The KITCASP project explores the use of territorial data in developing and monitoring national spatial strategies and other territorial development policies in Scotland, Ireland, Latvia, Iceland and the Basque Country, Spain. It examines the extent to which ESPON data has informed the strategies examined and develop guidelines on the use of indicators and ESPON data in territorial policy development at the national level. The lead stakeholder is the Scottish Government Directorate for the Built Environment, while the Lead Partner is the National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis (NIRSA), Republic of Ireland. Dr. Walsh is not actively involved in the implementation of this project but undertook a key role in coordinating the application for the project research on behalf of NIRSA. This included a lead role in drafting the proposal and in the coordination of the research team.

Monitoring Spatial Strategies on the Island of Ireland (2011)

This short-term ICLRD research project involved the preparation of an applied research report: Towards a Spatial Monitoring Framework for the Island of Ireland: a Scoping Study outlining recommendations for the development of a spatial monitoring framework for the two jurisdictions on the island of Ireland. This report focuses on the application of data for the purpose of informing policy decisions, in particular with respect to the policy objectives and strategic ambitions of the National Spatial Strategy for the Republic of Ireland (NSS) and the Regional Development Strategy for Northern Ireland (RDS). It draws on international experience at the European level and elsewhere in the UK.

River Basin Management and Spatial Planning (2010-2012)

This ICLRD project was funded as a component of the CroSPlaN (Cross-Border Spatial Planning and Training Network) INTERREG IVA programme. The research focussed on the ‘double challenge’ of cross-border cooperation and cross-sectoral policy integration which is a key feature of International River Basin Districts under the EU Water Framework Directive. The project included two international case studies, one of which was focussed on the Elbe International River Basin District from the perspective of Berlin and Brandenburg in Germany. Dr. Walsh took responsibility for this case study. The research led to the three ICLRD research reports, an article in the Borderlands journal and a policy and practice workshop held in October 2012.

ESPON INTERSTRAT: ESPON In Integrated Territorial Development Strategies (2010-2012)

The aim of the ESPON INTERSTRAT was transnational learning about using ESPON research in integrated policies for urban and rural development. The project brought together 9 partners from across the EU, incorporating very different institutional capacities and approaches to territorial policy-making, many different languages and representing a broad cross-section of territorial specificities. This diversity and breadth of experience was an important driver of the project design, with its focus on combining territorial responsiveness with transferability and effective learning.

Urban Environment Project: Decision Support Tools for Managing the Urban Environment (2006-2010)

Applied research project funded by the Irish Environmental Protection Agency and hosted by Urban Institute Ireland, University College Dublin.

Strategic Spatial Planning at the Regional and Local Scales: A Case Study of the Dublin City-Region (2006-2010) 

PhD Thesis Research Project at University College Dublin, School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Policy