The Baltic Sea faces numerous challenges. During the upcoming Baltic Sea Day, Jens Olsson, researcher at the Department of aquatic resources at SLU and coordinator for SLU Water Forum and Baltic Sea Science Center, answers three questions on why a special day should be dedicated to the Baltic Sea and how SLU contributes to a sustainable use of the environment in the Baltic Sea region.
August 27th is the Baltic Sea Day. Why does the Baltic Sea need its own day?
– The Baltic Sea is a world-unique inland sea of great benefit and pleasure for us 85 million people who live around it. The activities that come with our lifestyle leave a huge imprint and impact on the Baltic Sea environment. SLU produces scientifically based knowledge about the Baltic Sea concerning the challenges we face and about possible paths to increased sustainability.
Which are the key challenges for the Baltic Sea?
– The threats to, and the challenges for, the Baltic Sea are many and difficult to rank and separate from each other, as they often interact. Climate change and eutrophication are among the most important factors affecting species and habitats in the Baltic Sea. There are also environmental toxins, both known and unknown, and drug residues that affect the animals' behaviour and health. In addition, fishing and the exploitation of species' habitats affect many species in the Baltic Sea. To ensure long-term sustainable use of the Baltic Sea ecosystem, increased knowledge is required, among other things, about how these various factors affect the environment, individually and in collaboration. That is, a holistic approach and analysis of the entire ecosystem is pivotal.
What does SLU do in relation to the Baltic Sea?
– We have a broad approach to develop new knowledge and educate students about the Baltic Sea and its catchment area, from source to sea. Our focus is on how forests, agriculture, cities, land use and a changing climate affect the Baltic Sea environment and how we can use our unique inland sea in a sustainable way for the benefit and pleasure also for future generations. We also conduct studies of environmental toxins, drug residues, environmental communication and environmental economics, and map and monitor the status and development of fish and ecosystems in and around the Baltic. Informing managers, politicians and the general public is pivotal for a long-term sustainable use of the Baltic Sea.