AbstractThis paper presents a qualitative analysis of a series of in-depth interviews with governmental and non-governmental institutions (NGOs). Within the EUROCAT project this methodology of participatory approach, aiming to scope the present perceptions about environmental issues, is applied to the study of the Elbe catchment for the first time. In this frame, an Advisory Board (AB) was created, with the aim of giving insights into conflicting interests in the river catchment and guidelines for river basin management. Focus of the Elbe case study is the issue of nutrient enrichment (from the catchment) and the induced eutrophication of the coastal waters (the German Bight). Specifically, regarding this topic, the possible reduction of eutrophication in the German Bight by a (policy driven) decrease in nutrient inputs from the catchment area is analyised. Different measures for reducing the input of nutrients from the catchment, and ultimately preventing eutrophication of the coastal waters, are considered. In this context, the members of the AB, were asked about the efficiency and feasibility of different measures and the criteria for choosing ‘better’ management solutions among the possible ones.
Although there is a general agreement about the necessity of reduce nutrient emissions, some members of the AB perceive other environmental issues (e.g. altered morphodynamics) as more relevant than nutrient enrichment. Voluntary cooperation, eco-efficiency and ‘trans-sectoral’ communication are the key-concepts mentioned as being indispensable for integrated management. The (public) acceptance of measures for nutrient reduction have to find its way through compromises and social equity, allowing for win-win solutions among different groups of interests and balanced spatial division of costs and benefits.