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iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry
vol. 7, pp. 396-402
Copyright © 2014 by the Italian Society of Silviculture and Forest Ecology
doi: 10.3832/ifor1248-007

Collection: RegioResources21
“Spatial information and participation of socio-ecological systems: experiences, tools and lessons learned for land-use planning”
Guest Editors: Daniele La Rosa, Carsten Lorz, Hannes Jochen König, Christine Fürst

Technical Notes

The feasibility of implementing cross-border land-use management strategies: a report from three Upper Silesian Euroregions

Marcin SpyraCorresponding author


The Association of European Border Regions (AEBR) defines “Euroregion” as an organisational unit that allows and stimulates the cooperation of local governments and other public and private bodies on both sides of the border ([1]). As Perkmann & Spicer ([15]) noted, Euroregions are “organising templates for coordinating policies among contiguous local or regional authorities across national borders” (p. 12). Euroregions are dynamic constructs in which different processes are taking place, such as setting development goals, searching for new financing possibilities and expanding membership structures ([14]).

In the context of this study, the land-use management strategy should be understood as a joint document regarding the Czech-Polish borderland in the Euroregion area. It was assumed that the structure of such a document should start with an evaluation (diagnosis) of the Euroregion’s potential (location, land cover, infrastructure, demography, education, economy, analysis of existing strategic documents), followed by an analytical/strategic discussion (development scenarios, development and strategic goals, development priorities and implementation tools). Cross-border land-use management strategies are important, in that they should help to coordinate the development of the cross-border region (CBR), make transnational cooperation much smoother, and thus have a positive impact on cross-border ecosystems. On the other hand, land-use goals, interests concerning the CBRs (and Euroregions) and legislatures of the Czech Republic and Poland differ in many ways ([11]). Moreover, the administrative divisions are different on each side of the border. The cross-border land-use management strategy should strengthen the cross-border cooperation and coordinate the development of a particular CBR (Euroregion). The strategy should be one of the most important documents used in the implementation of the European Union Multiannual Financial Framework for the years 2014-2020, by facilitating the efficient use of the investment. However, little research has been carried out on the need for land-use management strategies and methods concerning such cross-border strategies in central Europe in general, and the Czech Republic/Poland in particular.

The method in this study is based on interviews conducted at the top level of management of the three studied Czech-Polish Euroregions: Pradziad, Silesia and Cieszyn Silesia. The objective of this study is to analyse the possibilities for implementing new Czech-Polish land-use management strategies in the analysed Euroregions. Additionally, this study is intended to deliver an overview of the method for developing land-use management strategies, which could be useful for each of those Euroregions.

The purposes of the study include:

  • Increasing knowledge about the need for and content of cross-border land-use management strategies in relation to the three Upper Silesian Euroregions.
  • Proposing a method suitable for preparing future cross-border land-use strategy documents that separately cover the three Upper Silesian Euroregions.

Cross-border land-use management strategies 

The study area

The study area includes three Euroregions located inside the Upper Silesia CBR: Pradziad, Silesia and Cieszyn Silesia (from west to east). Such Euroregion members are Czech and Polish communities and districts. The three Euroregions differ in population, area, land use and economy, among other aspects (see Tab. 1).

Tab. 1 - Area, population and population density in the Pradziad, Silesia and Cieszyn Silesia Euroregions as of December 2006. Source: “Euroregiony na granicach Polski” Statistical Office of Wroclaw, Poland.

The Upper Silesia CBR, defined by its historical borders based on the study by Kordecki & Smolorz ([7]), currently covers most of the area of the Polish Slaskie and Opolskie Voivodeships and the Czech Moravskoslezský region at the level of NUTTS 2 (Fig. 1). Upper Silesia is located in central Europe at the axis of the Moravian Gate, which is formed by the depression between the Carpathian Mountains and the Sudetes (Fig. 1). Culturally and politically, the CBR was shaped by German, Czech, Slovak, Jewish and Polish influences.

Fig. 1 - Location of Pradziad, Silesia and Cieszyn Silesia Euroregions inside the Upper Silesia CBR.

Previous experiences

Paasi ([13]) raises the question of whether a “region” actually exists or is merely an idea. He stresses that a region should also be seen as an end product of a research process. Such issues seem to be important also in the context of defining CBRs and delimiting their areas. Elaborating land-use management strategies should be understood as an important element of such a research process, helping to clarify the specificity of the CBR and the strength of the idea behind it.

Beginning in the late 1980s, Czech-Polish cross-border cooperation began to grow as a result of bottom-up initiatives. The 1980s also saw an intensification of the discussion of land-use issues concerning the Czech-Polish cross-border area ([8]). The first document concerning these issues, “Coordination document for Czech-Polish borderland”, was prepared in 1991. The document was updated several times, with the currently binding version “Study of the spatial development of the Polish-Czech borderland” (“Studium zagospodarowania przestrzennego pogranicza polsko-czeskiego”), being announced in 2006. Several issues such as environmental protection, infrastructure development, tourism and the labor market were discussed between the neighboring countries ([11]).

As requested in the above-mentioned document, a Euroregion land-use management strategy can help identify local common ideas and priorities for land-use planning at the Czech-Polish borderland that would be applicable to the whole Upper Silesia. This strategy will help fulfill the goal of central European land-use planning, namely to facilitate the decentralization process - the shifting of power from central governments to the local level ([2]). Moreover, the strategies discussed therein can be helpful in achieving the strategic goals of Czech-Polish borderland development, including the enhancement of the external and internal cohesion of the Polish- Czech borderland and the protection and restore of natural and cultural resources. Such goals could be achieved by adopting a proper land-use policy based on an in-depth knowledge about each Euroregion acquired during the preparation of the local land-use strategies. In addition, these efforts would be promoted by: (i) coordinating different land-use planning initiatives on both sides of the border; (ii) formulating common Czech-Polish strategic goals for the Euroregion; and (iii) ensuring the continuity of Czech and Polish strategic planning operations.

Data collection

The study was carried out between November 2012 and February 2013 through interviews to five Euroregions management representatives (presidents and directors of the Czech and Polish parts of each Euroregion). Euroregion executives were chosen to access the viewpoints of people responsible for the Euroregion’s development.

Data were collected by a questionnaire composed of two sections (one and two). In section one, general issues about the Euroregion’s current and future cross-border land-use planning initiatives were included, with the aim of:

  • investigating the need of a cross-border land-use management strategy in the Upper Silesian Euroregions;
  • assessing the main impediments to implementing these cross-border land-use management strategies; and
  • analyzing the types of issues related to Euroregion planned development that should be addressed in cross-border land-use management strategies.

In section one, seven general open-ended and closed questions concerning the land-use strategies in the Czech-Polish Euroregions were formulated:

  • 1A. What are the most important impediments to the Euroregion’s development?
  • 1B. If the Euroregion has a common Czech-Polish land-use strategy, which issues related to planned development were addressed in the strategy?
  • 1C. If the Euroregion does not have a common Czech-Polish land-use strategy, which issues related to planned development should be addressed in such a document?
  • 1D. What are the main threats to implementing land-use strategies for cross-border regions?
  • 1E. Does the Euroregion have a common Czech-Polish land-use strategy (yes, no)?
  • 1F. Are land-use strategies for cross-border regions necessary (definitely yes, yes, no, definitely no)?
  • 1G. Do land-use strategies for cross-border regions have a chance of being implemented (definitely yes, yes, no, definitely no)?

In the section two of the questionnaire, the proposed land-use strategic planning method based on the project matrix (PM) was evaluated (Tab. 2). The PM represents a planning scheme and is used as a theoretical basis to discuss and address the general challenges for implementing cross-border land-use management. The main aim of the PM is to structure the preparation of a land-use management strategy in a stepwise manner. The PM consists of three modules, M1, M2 and M3, described in detail in Tab. 2. The data concerning the Euroregion landscape collected in module M1 are sorted according to the method proposed by Steiner ([19]), in which the main inventory elements are regional climate, earth, terrain, water, soil, microclimate, vegetation, wildlife and existing land use and land users. Moreover, information about the area’s history, culture, economy and demography is included. Module M2 is based on the development of expert land-use scenarios for the Euroregions. Lastly, module M3 implements the results of the previous modules and formulates the strategic priorities and goals.

Tab. 2 - The project matrix (PM).

The purpose of this section was to:

  • develop an outlook of the method to facilitate the future preparation of land-use management strategies for the three Upper Silesian Euroregions; and
  • identify general challenges for land-use management in the studied area.

The section two of the questionnaire consisted of 11 open-ended and closed questions:

  • 2A. How would you rate the utility of actions described in the proposed PM (insufficient, sufficient, good, very good)?
  • 2B. How would you rate the logic of the modules (M1, M2, M3) proposed in the PM (insufficient, sufficient, good, very good)?
  • 2C. How would you rate the idea of using a foresight method to analyze the development potential of the Euroregion (insufficient, sufficient, good, very good)?
  • 2D. How would you rate the potential help given by middle-school pupils in collecting interdisciplinary data about the Euroregion and different stories about the Euroregion (“storytelling”: insufficient, sufficient, good, very good)?
  • 2E. How would you rate the possible help given by university students of the Opolskie, Slaskie and Moravsko-Slezkie “voivodeships” (administrative division) in collecting interdisciplinary knowledge about the Euroregion (storytelling about the Euroregion) and in creating development scenarios (insufficient, sufficient, good, very good)?
  • 2F. How would you rate the citizens’ involvement in the Euroregion development (insufficient, sufficient, good, very good)?
  • 2G. How would you rate the existing brand of the Euroregion (insufficient, sufficient, good, very good)?
  • 2H. How would you rate the role of creative class members in the development of towns, cities and regions (entirely irrelevant, unimportant, important, very important)?
  • 2I. How would you rate the need for citizen involvement in the Euroregion’s development (entirely irrelevant, unimportant, important, very important)?
  • 2J. What are the necessary actions that should be implemented to increase citizens’ involvement in the Euroregion’s development?
  • 2K. Which general aspects should be used to address the scenarios prepared in module 2?

Interpretation of the results

The answers to the questions from both sections of the questionnaire are presented in Tab. 3.

Tab. 3 - Summary of all answers given in both sections of the study interviews.

Results from section one clearly demonstrate that now is an appropriate time to examine the possibilities of implementing cross-border land-use strategies in the Euroregions analyzed. Only the Cieszyn Silesia Euroregion representative indicated that his/her institution has implemented cross-border strategic documents, namely “BORDER CROSSING - Model study of border crossings in the year 2005” and “INTERTURISM - Joint strategy for tourism development in the Silesian Beskid and Moravian-Silesian Beskid areas” (question 1E). At the time of the study the Polish association forming the Pradziad Euroregion was preparing a document entitled: “Strategy for Polish-Czech cooperation in the Pradziad Euroregion area in the years 2014-2020”. The representatives acknowledged that cross-border land-use management strategies are very necessary (question 1F), and all interviewees indicated that implementing such documents should be possible (question 1G).

According to the results, issues that the cross-border land-use strategies should address can be classified into three general categories:

  1. Further development of the Euroregion as a cross-border institution. The following issues were identified: strengthening cross-border cooperation between Euroregion stakeholders; identifying the issues affecting stakeholders’ development and searching for ways to solve them; seeking financing sources (question 1C).
  2. Economic development. The important aspects highlighted were: cross-border transport infrastructure; cross-border institutional cooperation (for instance, in the framework of cross-border clusters); the labor market; tourism and education (question 1B and 1C).
  3. The natural environment. The aspects deemed to be important in this area were: environmental hazards; environmental protection and preservation; liquidation of the consequences of natural disasters; inhabitants’ quality of live (question 1B and 1C).

Three main obstacles to the implementation of a cross-border land-use management strategy were identified (questions 1A and 1D):

  1. A lack of enthusiasm for or serious engagement with cross-border land-use planning among the Euroregion partners. This fact, combined with a fear of the European Union’s procedures, a lack of new institutional members in the Euroregions, and the resignation of existing members, should be identified as the foremost threat to cross-border land-use planning. It indicates a need for the improvement of the Euroregion’s brand and the building of trust among its members.
  2. The uncertainty of the European Union’s financial programming and budget for the years 2014-2020 was indicated as an impediment to cross-border land-use planning six times. This fact clearly indicates that both the process of land-use planning and further integration inside the Euroregions must be supported by proper financing.
  3. It is difficult to achieve a common vision of land-use planning on both sides of the border. The representative of the Polish association in the Pradziad Euroregion indicated that it is difficult even to summon the will to work on such a document. The Polish association in Cieszyn Silesia Euroregion also stressed the importance of “proper cooperation with the Czech partner”.

In section two the logic behind the proposed PM is appreciated, giving rise to the possibility of further elaboration and practical implementation of this theoretical planning scheme (questions 2A and 2B). Further considerations from the PM emphasize the following issues.

Constant development of adequate land-use strategic management tools for the Czech-Polish borderland

Results showed a marked potential for this area (question 2C). Moreover, the importance of involving different stakeholders in the early stage of the planning process was stressed by the interviewed Euroregion representatives (questions 2D & 2E). Such involvement can be implemented by planning and providing workshops for stakeholders. Cooperating with the public administration during the planning process is considered a priority, while the involvement of middle- school pupils and university students is commonly less considered. Representatives of middle-school pupils and university students could be considered a “support squad” in the planning process, providing a different perspective (different stories) about the spatial problems of the Euroregions. These support squads should be engaged in the planned workshops: (i) by gathering data and compiling fundamental information and knowledge about the Euroregion’s problems (PM, module M1); (ii) by critical reviewing and visualizing the land-use scenarios prepared (PM, module M2 - question 2K).

Engagement of Czech and Polish citizens in the Euroregion’s development

From the perspective of the Euroregion management, citizens could be more involved in the Euroregion development (question 2F). Three out of five interviewed managers rate this factor as important, and the other two as very important (question 2I). Moreover, all interviewees recognize the important role of the creative class in the regional development (question 2H). The answers to question 2J suggest several possible approaches to this purpose, all based on frequent discussions among Czech and Polish stakeholders. A possibility is to improve the Euroregion’s branding, which would encourage citizens to participate in Euroregion development in general and land-use in particular. The respondents’ answers suggest that it is important to continuously develop and improve such a brand (question 2G). Again, planning workshops are also a promising tool for increasing citizen participation.


Planning the CBR future

There are few important needs for land-use management in Upper Silesia CBR at the Euroregion scale. A document on the cross-border land-use management strategy does not exist in either Polish or Czech planning legislation. However, the conclusions from the Euroregion land-use management strategy should be included in national planning procedures. First, these conclusions can serve as valuable framework for land-use management at the regional level on both sides of the border and as a basis for the regular updating of national documents, being prepared with the help of local citizens and public sector representatives. Second, selected issues elaborated in the Euroregion land-use management strategy should be included in detailed land-use plans concerning Czech and Polish communities or parts thereof. During the preparation of the Euroregion land-use management strategy, Czech and Polish communities should have the chance to express their opinions about each other’s land-use plans. The process described above should be supported by the hierarchical nature of land-use planning that is well-established in the legislation, where planning at the community level takes into account the frameworks described in regional-level documents ([6]). Obviously, the differences in the land-use management/ planning legislation on each side of the border does not facilitate this implementation, but the proposed transnational and transparent process for preparing a Euroregion land-use management strategy (including adequate tools) can help overcome these difficulties.

The involvement of the Czech and Polish communities in the preparation of the requested land-use management strategy, identified as a critical issue, may help these public bodies to consider land-use management and planning form a wider, cross-border perspective, discouraging the unproductive “not in my backyard” line of thought. The involvement of Czech and Polish communities in cross-border land-use strategic management is significant in that these institutions are taking a substantial responsibility for the details of land-use planning in their areas.

Following are the issues identified in this study that can be linked to national/regional land-use norms/instruments.

Increasing Polish and Czech stakeholders’ collaboration in the land-use planning process

The European Landscape Convention emphasizes the role of participation in landscape strategic planning, the need to raise awareness of the landscape and the role of training and education ([5]). Representatives of the public sector should obviously be involved in the planning process at the earliest stage ([23]). Different methods of transdisciplinary and participative land-use strategic planning have recently been discussed (e.g., [3], [4], [17]) and criticized (e.g., [20]). Moreover, this study suggests the involvement of middle-school pupils and university students in the process via planning workshops. Those can serve as “support squads” for the overall process and can help in the identification of the planning problems, approaching from a different perspective ([18]).

Use of foresight for land-use strategic planning at the borderland

It is proposed to extend the foresight to the so-called “foresight 2.0”, in which more emphasis is placed on leadership rather than on management over the whole planning process. The process itself is also more flexible and focuses not only on problem-solving but also goal-creation ([12], [21]). The literature has indicated a significant growth in interest in scenario planning ([25]). Scenario planning approaches based on qualitative imaginary and storytelling should be introduced as a possible instrument of cross-border land-use planning ([10], [16]). Storytelling, which has been growing in importance over the last two decades, is an interesting and feasible approach (e.g., [24]). The planner’s role is to listen carefully to people’s stories and, using proper tools and methods, systematize the knowledge therein and use it as a basis for the decision-making process.

Future directions and research needs

As discussed by Lepik ([9]), Euroregions need to constantly define new development goals, cooperate with new types of members (e.g., NGOs, universities) and, above all, be aware of their financial resources. Better stakeholder involvement in land-use management could stimulate progress towards these goals. The Euroregion land-use management strategy can be used to overcome the impediments to Euroregion development mentioned in the interviews (Tab. 3). Specifically, it can be used to: (i) define clear targets for bilateral cooperation; (ii) prepare the Euroregion for the new European Union programme period (2014-2020); (iii) encourage the entrance of new members (e.g., districts and communities as well as NGOs and universities) into the Euroregion; and (iv) provide a more prominent role in national policies and participation in regional and national decision-making regarding land-use by serving as a reference for the Euroregion lobbying policy at the central governmental level on both sides of the border. In this way, the Euroregion land-use management strategy can help strengthen cross-border cooperation within all the Upper Silesia CBR in particular and other CBRs in general. All these issues should be considered as directions for future research.

Thackara ([22], p.43) writes that “dialogue and encounter are inescapable basis of trust in our relationships”. He describes the creation of trust through time as the nemawashi (“laying the groundwork”) factor. Trust must also be built between Czech and Polish stakeholders working on the cross-border land-use management strategy and planning the future of the CBR. Adequate land-use management tools and engagement of Czech and Polish citizens in the Euroregion’s development, argued in this paper, should be an element of the nemawashi factor. This factor could be the motto for further research concerning cross-border land-use management in CBRs.


This research was partly supported by a scholarship from the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education for outstanding young scientists.

I would like to thank the Euroregions representatives for their kind help in collecting research material, especially Mr Piotr Bak from the Pradziad Euroregion. I would also like to thank my colleagues Piotr Obracaj and Zbigniew Zebaty from the Opole University of Technology, Daniele La Rosa from University of Catania, Luis Inostroza from Dresden University of Technology and Jan Bondaruk from the Central Mining Institute in Katowice. The research described in this study would not have been possible without our discussions and their helpful cooperation.

Moreover, I would like to thank anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.


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Spyra M (2014).
The feasibility of implementing cross-border land-use management strategies: a report from three Upper Silesian Euroregions
iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry 7: 396-402. - doi: 10.3832/ifor1248-007
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Title The feasibility of implementing cross-border land-use management strategies: a report from three Upper Silesian Euroregions
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