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Growing populations and economic development cause new challenges for a sustainable use of the Baltic Sea. Many of these challenges are reflected in important policy documents shaping legislation and management in the Baltic countries now and in the future, e.g. the Baltic Sea Action Plan, the Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union (including the Roadmap for Maritime Spatial Planning) and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

New tools needed
In order to meet the requirements, new instruments are needed for local and regional marine spatial planning and environmental impact assessments. The aim of PREHAB has been to contribute in the development of some of these instruments. In particular, we have focussed on the development of tools for costefficient mapping of biodiversity in coastal habitats. We have also developed an approach for incorporating the effects of human pressures, which allows for evaluation of ecological and socio‐economic benefits from management actions.

Maps are essential
PREHAB is based on the firm belief that information about the spatial distribution of biodiversity, particularly in the form of explicit maps, is central for meeting many of the future policy-related challenges.

  • At a local scale, detailed and comprehensive underwater maps are needed for spatial planning and environmental impact assessment of proposed developments.
  • At a national or Baltic-wide scale, maps are needed for large-scale planning and to estimate the total area and cover of important habitats and species. The latter are used as criteria and indicators of “Favourable conservation status” in the Habitats directive and will be crucial for the assessment of “Good environmental status” according to the Marine Strategy Framework Directive once this is implemented.

Based on inventory data
The tools PREHAB has explored are based on integrative models of monitoring and inventory data on biodiversity and of environmental data such as depth and bottom-type. Furthermore, as demonstrated in the project by incorporating indicators of human pressures, these tools provide workable approaches for making informed decisions about consequences of different management scenarios. Such approaches will become increasingly important following the increasing pressures imposed on the Baltic Sea.

Some management situations where PREHAB can provide valuable advice

  • Local authority engaged in coastal planning needs to know the abundance and distribution of different types of submerged macrovegetation in the coastal area.
  • Local and national authorities performing environmental monitoring in the Baltic Sea.
  • Developer wants to build a marina. Different sites are possible and the decision needs to minimize the impact on ecological and socio-economic values.
  • National authority is designing a network of protected areas. Geographic information on ecological values (i.e. biodiversity) is needed. An economic valuation study helps to decide and justify the extent of protection.


Baltic Sea Action Plan - front cover

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