| Press Release GKSS Research Centre Geesthacht

The Residents of the North Sea Coast Fear more Storm Floods

According to a GKSS Survey 92% want to protect the region for the future

“Climate change is the greatest danger on the North Sea coast”, according to 33% of the residents of the coast. This is one of the results of a current survey carried out by the GKSS Research Centre, Geesthacht, an institute for coastal research, in 22 communities along the German North Sea coast. The current GKSS study ‘Homeland, Environment and Risk on the German North Sea Coast – the Coastal Region from the Perspective of the Population’ also makes it clear that those surveyed believed their home region to be unique and beautiful.

Despite increasing danger there is an impression of security

The GKSS department for ‘Socioeconomics of the Coastal Area’ is looking at awareness of the environment and risks among people on the north coast of Germany. These results help facilitate adaptation to climate change in society and management of the coastal region.

The main fear for a total 76% of those surveyed was an increasing number of storm floods and inundations. Despite the perceived risk of storm floods, the majority of the population believes that the existing coastal protection measures are sufficient. The increasing number of cars and boats, pollution of the environment and mass tourism are named as other dangers for the region.

Enthusiastic about North Germany

“Our intensive conversation with over 800 inhabitants of the coastal region also shows that people feel a strong link to their home region,” says Prof. Beate M. W. Ratter, head of the department for Socioeconomics of the Coastal Area at the GKSS Research Centre, Geesthacht. 92% of those surveyed are proud of their home region and would like to preserve it. “The requirements for sustainable development of the North Sea region are most certainly in place, as the nature of regions can only be effectively protected if people are enthusiastic about their environment” adds Prof. Ratter.

The landscape of North Germany gives a feeling of freedom

„Die Nordseeregion ist wie ein wunderbarer, flacher Pfannkuchen – am schönsten ist dabei der Rand“ beschrieb ein Befragter die Region

Photo: HZG/ Reinhard Reshöft

The current GKSS survey makes it very clear that those surveyed think their home region is unique and beautiful. It is perceived to be an ‘oasis of peace’, where the breadth of the landscape, the mudflats and the sea give a particular feeling of freedom: in the words of one participant, “The North Sea region is like a wonderful, flat pancake – the edges are the most beautiful”. The inhabitants of the coast want to preserve this special quality for future generations. That is why 79% of those surveyed were in favour of nature reserves, where human use would be strictly limited.

Background to the Opinion Poll & Further Information

This study is based on a survey of 862 inhabitants in 22 communities on the North Sea coast of Germany. A total of 422 men and 440 women took part. The ages of those surveyed were between 15 and 88.

Dept. System Analysis - Human Dimensions of Coastal Areas


Prof. Dr. Beate M.W. Ratter
Institute of Geography
Bundesstrasse 55
20146 Hamburg
Tel. (040) 42838-5225


Institute for Coastal Research
Dept. System Analysis - Human Dimensions of Coastal Areas
GKSS Research Centre Geesthacht
Max-Planck-Straße 1
21502 Geesthacht
(04152) 87-1527