From marine ecosystem accounting to integrated governance for sustainable planning of marine and coastal areas

The ecosystem-based approach is a strategy for the integrated management of land, water and living resources that promotes their conservation and sustainable use in an equitable way. EBA is a cornerstone of many EU directives but to date there is no clear guidance on how to implement it in practice, for instance, in the maritime spatial planning processes.

Ecosystems are linked to human well-being through the flow of ecosystem services, i.e., the benefits the marine environment and its resources deliver to society such as, the production of economically exploitable biomasses (e.g. fish.). A weak integration of ecology and economy results in a disconnection of economic analysis from the functioning of ecosystems. Current evaluation approaches hardly capture the cumulative impact of different human activities on ecosystem services thereby failing in the achievement of sustainable use of natural resources. To sustain climate and seawater quality these benefits have to be regulated. Therefore, novel assessment methodologies, which are more adequate to reflect the complexity of natural and human systems interactions are needed to further develop joint and integrated governance among MSP, MSFD and other integral regional strategies concerning the Baltic Sea.

The MAREA project will develop and test novel concepts of ecosystem services mapping, environmental accounting and sustainability assessment as well as embed these elements into the synthetic decision-support geoportal capable of developing sustainable planning solutions in two transnational pilot areas: Finland-Estonia in the Gulf of Finland and Estonia-Latvia in the Gulf of Riga.

The main result of the MAREA will be (1) the realisation of a system of accounting of marine environment and the benefits they deliver, also in terms of regulating services for climate and ecosystems’ sustainability, and (2) a connected model of integrated sustainable governance in the use of natural resources and marine space. An important aspect of the project is the involvement of key stakeholders in the Central Baltic region. The ecosystem accounting models as well as a Sustainability Compass are generated and updated through participatory learning including key stakeholders: authorities responsible for MSP and marine management planning, environmental experts and general public.

Project details

  • Project Name: MAREA
  • Project management: Finnish Environment Institute
  • Funded by: Central Baltic Programme 2014-2020
  • Operational time:06/2020-12/2022
  • Project number: 934

Project partners

Pellervo Economic Research PTT, University of Tartu, Baltic Environmental Forum-Latvia

Contact persons

  • Anda Ruskule
  • Kristīna Veidemane
  • Agnese Reķe
  • Dace Strigune

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