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The Finnish Inventory Programme for the Underwater Marine Environment, VELMU

Natura 2000 -palkinnon logo
© Olli Mustonen, Metsähallitus

VELMU Programme was awarded the European Natura 2000 Award

Winners of five categories were announced in an online ceremony held on the 14th of October. VELMU competed in the Conservation category, together with seven other finalist projects. The jury highlighted VELMU's impact on the development of marine nature conservation in Finland and the extensive network of cooperating institutions, among others.

More information about the winners, finalists and the Natura 2000 Award including pictures and video footage from the ceremony are available here.


Objectives of VELMU

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.

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
  • a book on Finnish marine underwater nature.

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.

Zostera marina Saaristomeri
© Heidi Arponen, Metsähallitus
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Published 2013-09-17 at 8:51, updated 2020-10-20 at 16:06