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New Saari project to analyse water quality in Gullkrona

News Marine Environment Protection

The Regional Council of Southwest Finland has granted nearly EUR 70,000 in funding to SAARI (SaaristoRider), a joint project between Project Litore ry and the Baltic Sea Action Group. The two-year project will analyse water quality in the conservation area being established in the sea around Gullkrona. The SAARI project is part of BSAG’s marine nature conservation programme

Aurinko paistaa pilvien lomasta Itämerellä

During the SAARI project, measurements will be taken in the waters around Gullkrona, where the largest private marine conservation area in the Archipelago Sea is being established. The area is being protected in cooperation with landowners as part of BSAG’s Living Baltic Sea project. Activities such as dredging, aquaculture and anchoring in eelgrass meadows will be restricted. These restrictions aim to protect the area’s underwater inhabitants from harmful human activities, that is, to safeguard the sea’s vitality and preserve underwater biodiversity.

In addition to direct human pressures, the success of these organisms is also affected by the prevailing living conditions in the area, such as the salinity, turbidity and nutrient content of the water. They vary in part naturally and in part due to indirect human pressures, such as organic emissions that leach into the sea from the land. The SAARI project’s measurements will provide an accurate and comprehensive overview of these conditions, which will be taken into account when assessing the effectiveness of conservation measures.

“When an area is protected, it’s also important to monitor the effectiveness of that protection. This kind of monitoring is particularly difficult in the sea, because water masses – and with them nutrients – will move regardless of a conservation area’s boundaries. In addition, changes in the sea’s condition are often slow to become visible. However, thanks to the SAARI project, we’ll be able to make impact assessments of marine conservation efforts from the outset. It will also give us a solid knowledge base for future monitoring,” says Pro Litore ry’s Matias Scheinin.

Closely-knit measuring points ensure accurate monitoring

The project will measure water quality at approximately 3,000 measuring points in the spring, summer and autumn of both 2023 and 2024. These measurements will focus on the overall effects of carbon, nutrients and solids. Water quality will also be studied from a climate perspective. The carbon dioxide and methane concentrations in the water will be measured in addition to traditional eutrophication indicators, such as chlorophyll a.

Pro Litore ry will take the measurements using the Coastrider method, which for the last five years has been used extensively to analyse eutrophicating emissions and their climate impacts in, for instance, the Havsmanualen projects being carried out on BSAG’s Carbon Action platform. In this method, water quality is measured with an automated mobile metering system based on modern sensor technology. In practice, this means that there’s no need to disturb nature by taking samples.

“In the archipelago region, both habitats and water quality can vary greatly. Comprehensive, high-resolution surveys provide an important perspective on the kinds of worlds in which species live within conservation areas,” says Scheinin.

“At BSAG, we’ve been working with the conservation of marine nature since 2019. This is when we launched the Living Baltic Sea project to promote the establishment of private marine conservation areas with funding from the Bank of Åland. Since early 2022, we’ve also been involved in the eight-year LIFE IP-BIODIVERSEA project, which is funded by the EU Commission and is seeking to develop a Baltic Sea conservation network. SAARI is a follow-up to these projects, and aims to increase our knowledge of underwater conditions in the Baltic Sea and their impact on conservation,” says BSAG’s Project Manager Anna Klemelä.


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