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European award to research in life in the sea

The research programme VELMU – Using underwater inventories for the conservation of marine areas in Finland has won this year’s European Natura 2000 Award. 

The pan-European award recognises excellence in the management of Natura 2000 sites. VELMU won the category Conservation, which highlights achievements that have improved the conservation status of a particular natural habitat type and / or species.

The Finnish Inventory Programme for Underwater Marine Environment, entitled VELMU, was launched in 2004 by the Ministry of Environment and the Finnish Environment Institute, and is coordinated by the Ministry of Environment. Other partners within the project are Åbo Akademi University; the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE); the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment in coastal districts; Metsähallitus, Parks & Wildlife Finland; Geological Survey of Finland (GTK); Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke); and Research Centre of the Naval Academy of Finland.

At Åbo Akademi University, researchers within the Environmental and Marine Biology programme, and especially Senior Scientist Sonja Salovius-Laurén and Research Associate Henna Rinne, have been involved in the project.

VELMU collects data on the occurrence of underwater marine biotopes, species and communities in Finland’s marine waters. The programme contributes to the Baltic marine protection and to the sustainable use of the sea and its natural resources.

The other categories in the Natura 2000 Award are Communication, Socio-Economic Benefits, Reconciling Interests / Perceptions, and Cross-border Cooperation and Networking. The Citizens’ Award also recognises the public’s favourite finalist, which this year was the project Partnership for protection of Bulgarian old-growth forests in Natura 2000.

There were 27 projects competing in the final. You can find the complete list here: https://natura2000award-application.eu/finalists