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

Ecosystems service mapping and modelling

Modelling of ecosystem services is needed for decision-making

Ecosystems are linked to human well-being through the flow of ecosystem services and the benefits the marine environment and its resources deliver to our society. These include, for instance, the production of economically exploitable biomasses (e.g. fish), regulating services that sustain the environment such as climate and seawater quality, and cultural services including recreational opportunities.

Effective marine management and spatial planning require information on the ecosystem services, the intensity of their supply and spatial distribution. However, this information is rarely available as marine ecosystems are dynamic and complex and mapping of their services has turned out to be a challenge.

To date, a common practice is to map the potential of ecosystem service supply based on different ecosystem structures. This means that many times ecosystem condition, functions, flow of services as well as demand are insufficiently addressed or ignored. The oversimplification of the interrelations of a complex system easily increases uncertainty, producing biased estimates of the ecosystem services.

Along with mapping of the services, assessing the cumulative pressures and their impacts on ecosystem service production would be essential. Human actions cause pressures on the marine environment and cause potential trade-offs between different ecosystem services as the pressures may harm or destroy the production of some services.

MAREA project aimed at overcoming these challenges by:

  • Developing an innovative framework to integrate ecosystem structure and functioning with the human benefits.
  • Developing the methodology for modelling of ecosystem services in complex marine environment.
  • Modelling the intensity and extent of ecosystem services representing different service categories focusing particularly on 2 pilot areas: Gulf of Finland and Gulf of Riga in the Baltic Sea.
  • Assessing cumulative human impacts on the marine environment and the services supplied and building a model tool that quantifies cumulative human impact on the services in the pilot areas.
  • Presenting the results in a user-friendly geoportal (please see “Decision-support geoportal” for more details).


Photo credit: Juuso Haapaniemi, Metsähallitus      Photo credit: Heidi Arponen, Metsähallitu                   Photo credit: Julia_Scheinin, Metsähallitus