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Story map: Recreation in the Baltic Sea under Climate Change


The BONUS BALTICAPP project team studies the supply and demand of marine ecosystem services in terms of recreation across the Baltic Sea region, focusing on the next 80-100 years. The project partners use a new combination of existing state-of-the-art modelling tools and recently collected data. For the presented story map the project consortium combines an approach to approximate the value of recreational locations based on interviews and models of climate change in the Baltic Sea region. The resulting maps give an overview of current recreational hotspots in the region as well as expected local benefits and losses through climate change.

Application in MSP:
Type of Issue:
Type of practice:
Stage of MSP cycle:
Cross-border / trans-national aspect:
Key words:

Questions this practice may help answer:

  • How to value recreational activities at the coast?
  • Where are recreational hotspots in the Baltic Sea region located?
  • How does climate change affect recreational sites in the Baltic Sea region?

Implementation Context:

The Baltic Sea contributes significantly to the identity of people living in the littoral countries. Over 70% of the population in the neighbouring states use the marine environment and the coasts of the Baltic Sea for recreation, representing some 80 million recreation visits annually.

The value of recreation at the sea cannot be described in market prices. In most cases, there is no entry fee for visiting nature. The economic value of recreation can however be approximated among others by using the theory of the travel cost method and extended to account for spatial differences across sites using the discrete choice modelling framework.

Aspects / Objectives:

  • Assessment of recreational ecosystem services in coastal areas.
  • Identifying the most valuable locations for recreation around the Baltic Sea.
  • Identifying effects of climate change on those locations and their value.


First a survey was conducted in all countries around the Baltic Sea. About 1,000 respondents per country took part in the survey, resulting in a total sample of 9,127 participants. The survey results shed light on the origin and destination of travellers, socio-demographics, people’s attitudes and activities undertaken at the coast.

For the mapping exercise, a spatially-explicit discrete choice and count data model has been used to estimate the recreational value of coastal sites and the importance of water quality attributes. In a second step, projections of environmental conditions under moderate climate change have been applied to assess how climate change might effect on recreational values, keeping all other factors equal.

Main Outputs / Results:

The output consists of several easy to read maps of the whole Baltic Sea Region presented on a website. The first map shows large differences across sites and countries in terms of the annual value of coastal recreation sites. The value ranges from 61.300 Euros in Estonia to more than 800 million Euros in Germany and Finland. This map reveals hotspots of recreational use of the Baltic Sea along the German and Polish coastline, around Stockholm in Sweden, Turku and Helsinki in Finland. In Denmark, with many coastal sites and relatively short distances to the coast, site values are relatively low

The second map tells a story on changes that will occur to those local values affected by climate change. Presuming a moderate climate regime and nutrient loads that are in compliance with the Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP), per trip values will decline for most sites, according to the applied model. The southern coast of the Baltic Sea will probably experience particularly high value losses. Recreation sites in the Bothnian Bay will however experience increases in per trip values, increasing over the century, as the climate change continues.


In the context of the BalticApp project, only countries around the Baltic Sea have been studied and included in the story maps. However, the applied method is very well suitable to be transferred to other sea basins or coastal regions.

Responsible Entity:

University of Helsinki (Project coordinator)

Aarhus University (WP Leader)

Costs / Funding Source:

This work resulted from the BONUS BALTICAPP project and was supported by BONUS (Art 185), funded jointly by the EU and the Academy of Finland, Innovation Fund Denmark, and Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development. The research presented in this study is part of the Baltic Earth (Earth System Science for the Baltic Sea Region) program.

Contact person:

Prof Kari Hyytiäinen, University of Helsinki

P.O. Box 33 (Yliopistonkatu 4)

00014 University of Helsinki, Finland

Phone: 02941 911


Marianne Zandersen,  Aarhus University

Frederiksborgvej 399

building 7420, K1.08

4000 Roskilde

Phone: +4587158728