A Horizon Europe project “Enabling comprehensive effective and efficient protection and restoration measures for a resilient Baltic Sea ecosystem” (PROTECT BALTIC).

AKTiiVS is among the partners of a consortium, consisting of 17 partners, for implementing the PROTECT BALTIC project.

PROTECT BALTIC is a ground-breaking initiative under Horizon Europe that aims to address the challenges of expanding marine protected areas (MPAs) and ensuring their effectiveness in the Baltic Sea region. PROTECT BALTIC will develop, demonstrate, and promote protection and restoration solutions in the Baltic Sea. This will be achieved by strategically monitoring and managing human activities, with a focus on reducing their impact through spatial protection measures for marine protected areas (MPAs), other effective conservation measures (OECMs), as well as actions to restore and rehabilitate damaged ecosystems. The project will develop the Baltic Sea protection optimization framework, which will serve as a comprehensive tool for guiding protection and management efforts in the region.

Funded by: European Commission’s Horizon Europe Research and Innovation programme.

Grant agreement number: 101112866.

Project implementation time: 08.2023-08.2028.

Project website:

Project goals

1. Spatial protection in the Baltic Sea results in tangible positive biodiversity outcomes and demonstrably contributes to a healthy and resilient Baltic sea with diverse biological components functioning in balance.

Implement effective governance of spatial protection and restoration measures, ensuring transparency, accountability, stakeholder participation, and adaptive management.

2. The Baltic Sea spatial protection network is strategically planned from an ecological perspective and is resilient, coherent, ecologically representative and well connected.

Execute well-informed design and planning for spatial protection and restoration, considering area values, threats and challenges, socioeconomic factors, and long-term sustainability.

3. The Baltic Sea marine protected area (MPA) network is effectively and equitably managed in an ecologically relevant way, enabling the potential of the network to provide biodiversity benefits to be realized.

Employ rigorous management practices for spatial protection and restoration, covering ecological condition, mitigation of threats to biodiversity caused by human activities, access regulation, resource use and visitation, socioeconomic factors, legal compliance, sustainable strategies, and performance assessment.

© Photo: Archive of the PROTECT BALTIC project.

Protection optimization framework

At the heart of the project is an innovative framework for optimizing protection – a holistic transboundary decision support package for identifying marine biodiversity protection and restoration targets and developing a shared approach for the spatial protection and restoration. The protection optimization framework will include novel Baltic-wide state of the art algorithms and decision support tools for environmental and habitat modelling, ecosystem services identification, quantification and valuation, protection coherence assessment, MPAs management effectiveness assessment, strategic area designation and measures prioritization, and ocean literacy. The framework will provide the infrastructure, support and capacity for the countries around the Baltic Sea to strategically extend and optimise spatial protection efforts with an ultimate aim – securing positive marine biodiversity outcomes through protecting biodiversity and the associated ecosystem functions and services.

Assessment and valuation of the marine ecosystem services

The project includes a dedicated work package (WP4) on the assessment and valuation of the marine ecosystem services. The work of AKTiiVS relates to further development of the sea region methodology and assessment for ecosystem service valuation within the integrated assessment methodology and the tool for identification, mapping, quantification and valuation of the marine ecosystem services.

The partner organizations

  1. Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission – Helsinki Commission (HELCOM) (FI) (coordinator)
  2. Aarhus University (DK)
  3. AKTiiVS (LV)
  4. Coalition Clean Baltic (NGO)
  5. Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (DE)
  6. Finnish Environment Institute (FI)
  7. Jade University of Applied Sciences (DE)
  8. Klaipeda University (LT)
  9. Metsähallitus (FI)
  10. Ministry of Climate (EE)
  11. Ministry of the Environment (DK)
  12. Ministry of the Environment (FI)
  13. State Services for Protected Areas under the Ministry of the Environment (LT)
  14. Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management (SE)
  15. Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SE)
  16. University of Tartu (EE)
  17. Åbo Akademi University (FI)

© Photo: HELCOM. The PROTECT BALTIC project partners at the project kick-off meeting in Helsinki.

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