Human activities and pressures
Human activities in the Baltic Sea and in its surroundings are responsible for pressures on the environment. The size of the catchment area of the Baltic Sea is four times the size of its surface area, and is currently inhabited by around 85 million people. Inputs from human activities in the catchment area, such as nutrient loading and release of hazardous substances, add to pressures from human activities at sea, causing cumulative impacts to the status of the marine environment.
Environmental management to reduce pressures from human activities and minimize negative impacts often needs to take into account a complexity of linkages. Typically, one human activity may give rise to a number of pressures, with different impacts on the environment, and one pressure may reflect the sum from several human activities. Current important pressures on the Baltic Sea environment are shown in Figure 3.1, together with links to the many human activities that may contribute to them. The figure reflects the multiple ways in which pressures may enter the marine environment and impact on species, habitats and human well-being.
Cost of degradation
The ways in which pressures may affect species and habitats are sometimes well-known but often include indirect or cascading effects, so that impacts on one species may lead to secondary impacts on other species. From the perspective of human welfare, the deterioration of the environment decreases the economic contribution from human activities that are dependent on the state of the sea, and also reduces the value that people place on the marine environment. Cost of degradation analysis measures the reduction in human welfare caused by the deterioration of the marine environment (Box 3.2).
The relationship between the two components of economic and social analyses, the use of marine waters and cost of degradation, is outlined in a simplified way in Figure 3.2. Data to simultaneously assess both components is currently scarce at the regional scale, but one example is provided in Box 3.3. The results from the study (Czajkowski et al. 2015) show the current value of marine and costal recreation, an activity which is dependent on the state of the Baltic Sea environment, to be around 15 billion euros annually, and the relative loss of value caused by deterioration of the environment to be around 1–2 billion euros each year.
Spatial distribution of human activities
Examples of human activities of importance in the Baltic Sea and their spatial distribution are shown in Figure 3.3.