AquaBiota did an analysis of spatial information for different Natura 2000 habitats and, conservation- and nested targets. The analysis is meant to support the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management investigation regarding the ecological functionality, connectivity and representativeness of the network of Marine Protected Areas (MPA) in Sweden.
Within Swedish marine areas there are several habitats that has been selected for conservation and protection of biodiversity. To evaluate how representative the Marine Protected Areas (i.e. Koster National Park, nature reserves and Natura 2000 areas) a GIS-analysis for the entire Swedish ocean area was conducted where we investigated how much of the conservation- and nested targets, and Natura 2000 habitats that are protected in relation to ocean area. The conservation targets are divided into soft- and hard bottom, and photic and aphotic zones, whereas Natura 2000 habitats are areas considered by the EU as important for biodiversity or have a limited geographical distribution, such as mudflats and sandflats not covered by seawater at low tide or estuaries. The nested targets included in this included ecologically important habitats, such as mussel banks and reproduction areas for fish and porpoise or areas with high probability of ringed seals, grey seals and harbor seals.
The Swedish ocean area is divided into three marine spatial areas (Gulf of Bothnia, Baltic Sea and, Skagerrak and Kattegat) and in order to compare the three different areas the analysis was made separately. In the same way, an analysis was performed for the different counties. In most of the cases the Marine Protected Areas was similar in comparison between the marine spatial areas and counties but sometimes there were also differences. This could be related to the natural variation in the distribution of nested targets and species but in other cases, some habitats might be underrepresented. This is important to take into consideration when designating new marine protected areas.
Contact: Johan Näslund