What is at stake for biodiversity?

Updated biodiversity status assessment results for the Baltic Sea clearly show the need for continued and improved coordinated measures for its environment and biodiversity. Species and communities at all levels of the food web have at least partially inadequate environmental status across the full spatial extent of the Baltic Sea, as presented in summary here and in full detail in the HELCOM thematic assessment of biodiversity in the Baltic Sea (HELCOM 2023a).

Only a few indicators have acceptable levels in parts of the region, and none in all assessed areas. The deteriorated status is of immediate concern for the affected species, but deteriorated status of individual species also leads to impacts on ecosystem processes through the connections among species and populations in the food web. Hence, deteriorated biodiversity status also has implications for the capacity of the Baltic Sea to support our human well-being.

The HELCOM vision is a healthy Baltic Sea environment with diverse biological components functioning in balance, resulting in good ecological status and supporting a wide range of sustainable economic and social activities.

In the Baltic Sea Action Plan, a central goal for biodiversity is:

A Baltic Sea that is healthy and resilient

Through the actions in the 2021 Baltic Sea Action Plan, HELCOM countries have declared their firm determination to preserve the ecological balance of the Baltic marine environment, to ensure the possibility for it to self-regenerate, and to take all appropriate measures to conserve and protect the natural habitats, biological diversity and ecological processes of the Baltic Sea by 2030 at the latest.

State of the Baltic Sea 2023 — The third HELCOM holistic assessment (HOLAS 3)

State of the Baltic Sea 2023 is a synthesis report that builds on, and integrates, results from a wide range of assessment products produced within the third HELCOM holistic assessment. Its role is to link information from the underpinning assessment products together, thus highlighting the holistic aspects. With this in mind, the summary report focuses on presenting the results and on an in-depth look at why we are seeing these results, providing over-arching context and analysis. The report helps develop a clearer picture of where we are and how things are connected, supporting coordinated and effective measures to strengthen the Baltic Sea environment.

Thematic assessment



The thematic assessment report on the biodiversity status of the Baltic Sea (HELCOM 2023a) presents results from status assessments relating to biodiversity, based on HELCOM indicators, integrated assessments and regionally agreed data for the years 2016-2021. The assessment reveals improvements in spatial coverage compared to HOLAS II (2011-2016), incorporates new indicators and introduces novel topics. For the first time, trends for indicators and assessment results are compared across assessment periods.

However, further work remains to fill gaps in spatial coverage, improve precision of HELCOM indicators and to strengthen relevance to ecosystem-based management.