New environmental atlas reveals Gulf of Finland's natural treasures



Posted on 23 March 2006  | 
Helsinki, Finland – WWF and the Baltic Fund for Nature (BFN) have launched a new environmental atlas of the Gulf of Finland, providing a comprehensive overview of the current state of the gulf's natural ecosystems, protected areas and rare species. It also identifies the overall threats and their potential impact to this biologically and economically important region.

The atlas, which includes over 50 maps, covers information about sensitive and endangered areas, as well as important fish, seal and bird species.

“This publication fills an important gap in the biological information available today and will thereby help spearhead the protection of high conservation values of the Baltic Sea," said Lasse Gustavsson, Director of WWF’s Baltic Ecoregion Programme.

"We believe it will prove to be an effective tool for prioritizing the efforts of NGOs, research institutions and relevant authorities in combating major environmental problems in the eastern Baltic.”

This atlas is a significant advance for Russia and the Gulf of Finland region as many European Union countries have yet to pull together such comprehensive inventories of biological values and potential impacts for key areas. It provides vital information that is urgently needed in this region of rapid growth, which is subject to increasing pressures on the natural environment.

“Baltic Sea is one ecosystem...and in order to develop effective solutions to our ecosystem challenges, decision makers need to have access to good, solid, scientific information," said BFN Director Rustam Sagitov.

"The Gulf of Finland environmental atlas provides this important biological information in an accessible format upon which sound decisions can more easily be based.”

The Russian version of the atlas was released today. The English version will be available later in the spring.

END NOTES:

• The Baltic Fund of Nature (BFN) of the St Petersburg Society of Naturalists was created in 1995 to facilitate the development of scientific projects, educational and informational programmes on nature protection in the Baltic regions of the Russian Federation.

• WWF’s Baltic Ecoregion Programme aims to conserve, and where necessary restore, the full range of biodiversity of the Baltic Sea region. This includes the development of integrated land, coastal and marine activities to strengthen the local and regional capacity to achieve sustainable ecosystem-based management of the Baltic Sea's resources. The following organizations are lead partners within the Baltic Ecoregion Programme: Baltic Fund for Nature, WWF-Denmark, Estonian Fund for Nature, WWF-Finland, WWF-Germany, Lithuanian Fund for Nature, Pasaules Dabas Fonds, WWF-Poland, WWF-Russia and WWF-Sweden.

For further information:
Pauli Merriman, Programme Manager
WWF Baltic Ecoregion Programme
Tel: +46 8 624 74 00
E-mail: pauli.merriman@wwf.se

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