To address “wicked problems” that threaten the good ecological status of the Baltic Sea such as climate change with diverse stakeholder values and complex solutions, new interdisciplinary knowledge that incorporates citizen science is urgently needed. This paper scrutinizes environmental heritage in the Baltic Sea region by exploring what it means to persons living in the Baltic Sea environment. It asks the question, what is environmental heritage? It uses a qualitative research method using both texts and photographs—collected in an open competition—to consider humanistic viewpoints of persons living in the changing climate in the Baltic Sea Region. A thematic content analysis was utilized to identify emerging themes in the text and visual inquiry was used to decipher what meanings related to environmental change were conveyed in submitted the photographs. Some of the findings include that environmental heritage is perceived as experiences of living and interacting with the Sea and other non-human actors like animals, but also as material objects in the environment such as sustainable architecture. It also found that environmental heritage is articulated as a source of conflict, between users and uses and the traditional and new ways of life. Resolution of this conflict is important in guiding effective solutions to the challenge of climate change. It is thus important to develop interdisciplinary methods that facilitate the merging of different knowledge systems in order to generate effective solutions.
- Baltic Sea; wicked problems; climate change; public participation; interdisciplinary knowledge; citizen science; environmental heritage