People are dependent on the ocean and coasts and their resources for their survival and well-being. Coastal ecosystems of the Nordic countries, such as kelp forests, blue mussel beds, eelgrass meadows and shallow bays and inlets, provide a number of supporting, provisioning, regulating and cultural ecosystem services to both the local communities as well as the wider population who benefit from them. These are high biodiversity ecosystems with numerous species of flora and fauna. They act as important nursery habitats for several species of fish, shellfish and plants, including commercial species. They are also an important part in a number of system processes including water purification, coastal erosion protection and carbon fixation, to mention a few. Further, the coastal zone is important as a recreational area for swimming and fishing and there is a large potential for new applications such as biofuel production and increased production of alginate. As a result, there are many interests and benefits related to these areas.
Four key ecosystems were selected to be examined in this report, kelp forests, eelgrass meadows, blue mussel beds and shallow bays and inlets. For kelp forest and mussels, the economic potential of cultivation was also considered. The study focused on examining these coastal values through selected examples, and recommended possible applications for the management of the Nordic coastal areas and their resources. The study also identified key knowledge gaps and suggests where further work should be emphasized.
The project was funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers (NCM) and was conducted under the leadership of NIVA in collaboration with the Institute of Marine Research (IMR), GRID-Arendal, NIVA Denmark Water Research and the Swedish AquaBiota Water Research.