© Jussi-Tapio Roininen, Metsähallitus
VELMU collects data on the occurrence of underwater marine biotopes, species and communities in Finland’s marine waters. The programme contributes to the Baltic marine protection and to the sustainable use of the sea and its natural resources.
Objectives of VELMU
The marine environment is threatened by various human-induced pressures and activities. Eutrophication, harmful substances and climate change affect the marine ecosystems. Overfishing and non-indigenous species may change the food-web structure. The sea floor and shores are changed, for instance, by construction, dredging, dumping and gravel extraction.
While the uses of the sea areas are increasing constantly, the lack of knowledge of the underwater marine environment makes it difficult to allocate various uses in an environmentally sustainable manner. Maritime spatial planning is therefore needed. Such planning is, however, impossible without reliable spatial information about marine species, communities and habitats.
In the VELMU programme, both abiotic (geological, physical and chemical) and biotic characteristics of the marine environment are inventoried. Inventories are conducted particularly to map the distribution of benthic habitats, and the vascular plants, macroalgae, invertebrates and fish species living in these habitats.
The aim of the inventories is to identify hot-spots of functional and species diversity, and sites where species requiring particular protection occur. It will then be possible to safeguard and preserve the underwater biodiversity by protecting the most valuable sites and by sustainable allocation of various uses.
VELMU’s expected end-products are:
- Species and habitats database
- Map portal where all VELMU data, as well as information on human activities and pressures, are displayed
- VELMU Atlas – a Finnish marine atlas – that contains, in addition to VELMU data, also general information on the underwater marine environment and its protection
In addition to the above end-products, the programme has been instrumental in helping to build the infrastructure for the inventory, research and monitoring of marine biodiversity in Finland’s complex coastal waters and has enhanced marine biodiversity knowledge and expertise.
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© Heidi Arponen, Metsähallitus