Living Baltic Sea is a collaborative project which utilises the extensive data from the Finnish Inventory Programme for the Underwater Marine Environment VELMU to build concrete measures to protect underwater environments in the Baltic Sea. The coast of Finland has a rich and diverse underwater life. However, eutrophication, climate change, and different human-induced pressures threaten the sea’s biodiversity.
Living Baltic Sea aims to develop solutions to bring valuable underwater marine areas under protection, and to inform public about the importance of underwater biodiversity and private entities’ role in protecting it. This is especially important, as research has shown that most of the valuable habitats in need of protection are located in privately owned areas.
Currently almost three quarters of important underwater marine environments fall outside of the protected areas. Biodiversity is often concentrated in relatively small areas, so called hot spots. This is why even small increases in protected areas can bring a large variety of species and habitats under protection, if the measures are well planned and precisely targeted.
In addition to BSAG, key collaborators in the project are the Finnish Environment Institute SYKE, Metsähallitus, Tvärminne zoological station, Åbo Akademi, Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, and the Ministry of the Environment. The project collaborates closely with VELMU. The Bank of Åland’s Baltic Sea Project is the strategic partner and financer of the project.
The project’s pilot area is the Gullkrona island in the archipelago of Southwestern Finland. According to the VELMU data gathered so far, the surroundings of the island are rich habitats and the variety of species were further investigated by Metsähallitus during the early autumn 2019.