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The Finnish Inventory Programme for the Underwater Marine Environment

Funding Programme:




Completion Year:

Contact Person(s):

Research Professor Markku Viitasalo

Finnish Environment Institute, Marine Research Centre

+358 295 251 742 (markku[dot]viitasalo[at]environment[dot]fi)

Implementation Period:
Specific Funding Programme:

Finnish Government Programme

About 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.

In the VELMU programme, both abiotic (geological, physical and chemical) and biotic characteristics of the marine environment are inventoried. Inventories are conducted particularly to map the distribution of benthic habitats, and the vascular plants, macroalgae, invertebrates and fish species living in these habitats.

The aim of the inventories is to identify hot-spots of functional and species diversity, and sites where species requiring particular protection occur. It will then be possible to safeguard and preserve the underwater biodiversity by protecting the most valuable sites and by sustainable allocation of various uses.

VELMU’s expected end-products are:

  • Species and habitats database
  • Map portal where all VELMU data, as well as information on human activities and pressures, are displayed
  • VELMU Atlas – a Finnish marine atlas – that contains, in addition to VELMU data, general information on the underwater marine environment and its protection

In addition to the above end-products, the programme has been instrumental in helping to build the infrastructure for the inventory, research and monitoring of marine biodiversity in Finland’s complex coastal waters and has enhanced marine biodiversity knowledge and expertise.

VELMU survey areas

1. The Archipelago Sea
2. The Quark area
3. The Gulf of Finland
4. The Bothnian Bay
5. The Bothnian Sea

Project partners

  • Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE)
  • 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) (until 31.12.2014 Game and Fisheries Research Institute)
  • Åbo Akademi University
  • Research Centre of the Naval Academy of Finland