“From marine ecosystem accounting to integrated governance for sustainable planning of marine and coastal areas”
Project acronym: MAREA
Project management: Finnish Environment Institute
Funded by: Central Baltic Programme 2014-2020
Project number: CB934
Total budget: EUR 1 515 601, 45;
ERDF: EUR 1 202 608, 77
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 must 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 developed and tested 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. Some of the ecosystem services will be also assessed in a wider Baltic Sea area. .
The main result of the MAREA project: 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 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 public.