The Echopolis conference took place on 26-28 November 2018 in Athens. The aim of the event was to draw attention to natural and cultural heritage as a defining element of 'place identity'. Both types of heritage bring communities together and builds shared understandings of the places we live in. Since 2018 is the European Year of Cultural Heritage, events are planned all over Europe to encourage people to discover and engage with Europe’s cultural and natural attractions, so as to enhance our sense of a European belonging. This means that natural and cultural heritage should be recognized, understood, planned and managed together.
At the same time, it may enhance the efficiency of place-based policies. To meet these expectations also in the framework of planning, MSP processes need high quality spatial data on both the natural and cultural values of sea areas and on the existing human uses and pressures. Moreover, there is a need to understand the intrinsic spatial relationships of the patterns of cultural and natural values and human uses in order to deliver well-informed planning solutions. The Interreg BalticRIM project is dealing with these topics and has compiled a spatial database of underwater marine cultural heritage data (wrecks), data of marine nature values (biodiversity, key species), abiotic environmental data (depth, wave exposure etc.), human uses and pressures data (Baltic Sea Pressure Index, shipping intensity, hydro-morphological alterations etc.) for some parts of the Baltic Sea. During one of the conference sessions, partners from the BalticRIM project representing the archaeological side (State Archaeology Department of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany; Finnish Heritage Agency and Estonian Heritage Board) as well as from the planners side (s.Pro, Germany, and University of Tartu, Estonia) presented further aspects of their work on innovative management for Maritime Cultural Heritage and how to promote MCH within national MSP.