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Frontpage News 2012 Mapping Polish waters to safeguard biodiversity


Mapping Polish waters to safeguard biodiversity

  • As part of the renewed EU strategy to halt the loss of biological diversity by 2020, Polish and Norwegian researchers have developed an atlas of Polish marine areas.  

    Though well hidden, a large part of European flora and fauna is located below sea level. Maps of species and habitats in coastal areas are therefore necessary for ensuring sustainable management of the marine environment and for achieving European biodiversity objectives.

    Pioneer project
    The EEA Grants have financed a 2-year pioneer project by the Institute of Oceanology at the Polish Academy of Sciences aimed at developing the first set of maps of Polish marina area habitats. The Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA) has contributed with their competence in creating marine area ecosystem valorisation maps. Through the 1992 Habitats Directive, Poland is committed to protect sites included in the Natura 2000 network of nature protection areas. In order to conduct sustainable spatial planning, a complete set of data together with efficient tools are vital. According to Dr. Trine Bekkeby, research scientist at NIVA and a participant in the project, this kind of marine mapping produces invaluable results to both industry and government actors. 

    The project has combined state-of-the-art-knowledge on biodiversity with existing methodologies to develop ways of mapping Polish marine areas in line with European standards of habitat classification. Anchored in the European Nature Information System (EUNIS) database, marine habitats have been identified and mapped to create an online marine atlas.

    The Polish-Norwegian habitat mapping initiative is one of more than 30 biodiversity-related projects supported by the EEA Grants. The results will help preserve biodiversity in the Baltic Sea, and ensure sustainable use of Polish coastal areas.

    Photo: Illustrative picture taken by Iselin Rønningsbakk, FMO.

  • Country:


    Project title:

    Ecosystem approach to marine spatial planning - Polish marine areas and the Natura 2000 network

    Case number:


    Priority sector:

    Academic research



    Type & project assistance:

    Individual project

    Project duration:

    24 months

    Project cost:

    € 678,291

    Grant rate:


    Grant agreement date:

    23 February 2007

    The purpose of the Project is the development of a methodology guide for identifying habitats in Polish marine areas (PMA) and their valorisation based on scientific and technical achievements according to methodology consistent with European norms, with the overall objective of sustainable development of PMA preserving their biological diversity realised through the preparation of spatial planning proposals, in full consideration of their ecosystem values. Reference is made to the application, dated 21 June 2006 and additional information received from the Focal Point, dated 29 August 2006.

    The completed Project shall include the following activities and results:

    - Definition of the ecosystem approach to the spatial planning of marine areas;

    - Inventory of archival environmental data pertaining to PMA that are indispensable for creating EUNIS classification level 3 habitat maps;

    - Environmental pilot studies at level 5 of the EUNIS habitat classification;

    - Development of a collection of maps (atlas) of marine habitats and ecosystem valorisation for the most sensitive areas in the Natura 2000 network;

    - Spreading of information for scientifically based spatial planning of PMA (production of publications and scientific papers);

    - Construction of an Environmental Database (EDB) to assist in the protection and spatial planning of PMA.

    The Project Promoter is the Institute of Oceanology, Polish Academy of Sciences. The Project will be implemented by the Project Promoter together with six partners; the Institute of Oceanography at the University of Gdansk, the Sea Fisheries Institute (in Gdynia), the Maritime Institute in Gdansk, the Polish Geological Institute (Marine Geology branch), the Norwegian Institute for Water Research, and GEOMOR (the Geoscience and Marine Research & Consulting Company).

    The Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education shall provide at least 15 percent of the estimated eligible Project cost.