Project: BALANCE

Sea anemones
Sea anemones by Jan Nicolaisen, Orbicon

The Baltic Sea is subject to severe environmental degradation caused by commercial and leisure activities such as dredging, fisheries, tourism, coastal development and land based pollution sources, placing increasing pressures on vulnerable marine habitats and natural resources.

About the project

Conflicting priorities and lack of integrated management planning is a key obstacle for resolving the current state of affairs. An ecosystem-based approach to management, based on transnational spatial planning, would be a strong tool to overcome this challenge. Spatial planning, which integrates complex information on marine landscapes, habitat distribution, economic values and conservation status with information on user practices and stakeholders dependence on natural resources, is a needed for a holistic planning and informed decision-making. It would also contribute to a cost-effective and successful implementation of EC Directives, HELCOM recommendations and related policy documents. For example, transnational spatial planning can assist implementation of the measures set in place for protecting the ecosystem structure, such as the Natura 2000 Network, by facilitating a balanced designation of sites representing a continuum of marine habitats and promote "blue corridors" between protected sites.
Today, a set of technical constrains halt the use of an integrated BS management approach, including lack of transnational habitat maps, lack of data, tedious data exchange, inconsistent data formats, and generally poorly co-ordinated efforts between agencies and stakeholders. BALANCE will provide the BSR with key information and much-needed spatial planning tools that can overcome such problems. These will assist agencies and key stakeholders in planning and implementing effective management solutions for sustainable use and protection of our valuable BS landscapes and unique natural heritage.

BALANCE aimed to:

  1. Develop transnational marine spatial planning tools and an agreed template for marine management planning and decision-making. It will be based on 4 transnational pilot areas demonstrating the economical and environmental value of habitat maps and marine spatial planning (exemplified through 2 zoning plans). The tools and zoning plans integrates biological, geological and oceanographic data with local knowledge from stakeholders;
  2. Develop the "blue corridor" concept and promote "blue corridors" between protected sites adding spatial development dimensions to the implementation of EC Directives;
  3. Assess if the Baltic marine Natura 2000 network is ecological coherent and adequately represents & protects a continuum of habitats;
  4. Develop a communication strategy for stakeholder involvement to ensure that objectives and decisions address local stakeholders needs and that products is used and understood by the end of project;
  5. Disseminate project outputs to key users and public through various media, including a project web site, enhancing awareness of the marine natural heritage and the benefits of sustainable resource use.

The spatial planning tools include:

  1. BS marine landscapes presented in GIS maps;
  2. A holistic approach to marine habitat mapping integrating data on benthic, pelagic & fish habitats in 4 transnational pilot areas;
  3. Development of habitat models for areas with little biological information;
  4. Templates for zoning plans in 2 pilot areas, including planning guidelines and criteria to evaluate management success;
  5. Meta-database for BS marine data, outlining data formats, techniques and data availability for use by stakeholders in future planning;
  6. Development of agreed protocols for habitat mapping based on intercalibration of existing national protocols, ensuring compatible data for future transnational mapping.
Reef animals
Reef animals by Karsten Dahl
Telia felina (Sea anemone) by Jan Nicolaisen, Orbicon
Laminaria saccharina
Laminaria saccharina by Jan Nicolaisen, Orbicon
Dilsea carnosa
Dilsea carnosa by Karsten Dahl
Jørgen Overgaard Leth
Senior Researcher
Marine geology
Zyad Al-Hamdani
Senior Researcher
Marine geology

Project facts

The project period was 2005-2008.

Danish Forest and Nature Agency
Marine and Habitats Division

DHI - Water and Environment

GEUS - Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland

National Environmental Research Institute
Department of Marine Ecology

Danish Institute for Fisheries Research
Department of Sea Fisheries

WWF Denmark

Estonian Marine Institute, University of Tartu

Metsähallitus Natural Heritage Service

Finnish Environment Institute

Geological Survey of Finland

WWF Finland

WWF Germany

Institute of Aquatic Ecology, University of Latvia

Coastal Research and Planning Institute

Swedish Environmental Protection Agency

National Board of Fisheries

Geological Survey of Sweden

WWF Sweden

County Administrative Board of Stockholm

Department of Marine Ecology, Gothenburg University
Tjänö Marine Biological Laboratory


Leibniz-Institute of Marine Sciences

Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute

The Geological Survey of Norway

The Norwegian Instute for Water Research


No 33: The BALANCE Conference 

No 32: Guidelines for harmonisation of marine data

No 31: Marine landscapes and benthic habitats in the Archipelago Sea

No 30: Mapping of Natura 2000 areas in Baltic Sea archipelago areas

No. 29: Essential fish habitats and fish migration patterns in the Northern Baltic Sea

No. 28: GIS tools for marine spatial planning in the Baltic Sea

No. 27: Mapping and modelling of marine habitats in the Baltic Sea (draft)

No. 26: What´s happening to our shores?

No. 25: Towards ecological coherence of the MPA network in the Baltic Sea

No. 24: Towards a representative MPA network in the Baltic Sea

No. 23: The modelling of Furcellaria lumbricalis habitats along the Latvian coast

No. 22: E-participation as tool in planning processess

No. 21: Mapping of marine habitats in the Kattegat

No. 20: Pelagic habitat mapping: A tool for area-based fisheries management in the Baltic Sea

No. 19: The BALANCE Data Portal

No. 18: A practical guide to Blue Corridors

No. 17: Baltic Sea oxygen maps

No. 16: The stakeholder - nature conservations best friend or its worst enemy

No. 15: Biodiversity on boulder reefs in the Kattegat

No. 14: Intercalibration of sediment data from the Archipelago Sea

No. 13: Harmonizing marine geological data with the EUNIS habitat classification

No. 12: Evaluation of satellite imagery as a tool to characterise shallow marine habitats in the Baltic Sea

No. 11: Fish habitat modelling in a Baltic Sea archipelago region

No. 10: Towards marine landscapes in the Baltic Sea

No. 9: Model simulations of Blue Corridors in the Baltic Sea

No. 8: BALANCE Stakeholder Communication Guide

No. 7: BALANCE Cruise Report: The Kattegat

No. 6: BALANCE Cruise Report: The Archipelago Sea

No. 5: Evaluation of remote sensing methods as a tool to characterise shallow marine habitats

No. 4: Literature review of the "Blue Corridors" concept and its applicability to the Baltic Sea

No. 3: Feasibility of hyperspectral remote sensing for mapping benthic macroalgae cover in turbid coastal waters of the Baltic Sea

No. 2: Development of a methodology for selection and assessment of a representative MPA network in the Baltic Sea

No. 1:  Delineation of pilot areas

Seaanemones on a submarine structure made by leaking gases by Karsten Dahl

Kick-off Meeting, Copenhagen 2005

End conference presentations