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Spatial planning in archipelago waters by high spatial resolution remote sensing (HISPARES)
Start date: Dec 31, 2009, End date: Nov 30, 2012 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Spatial planning on land is widely used but the first steps have just been made in the aquatic environments. Bottom types, benthic algal cover and water depth needed for spatial planning are rarely known. As a result decisions made in managing and protecting of coastal and archipelago waters are often questionable. For example there is a protected area in the Western Estonian Archipelago that is supposedly for protecting commercially harvested Furcellaria species. However, Furcellaria only grows in waters much deeper than in the whole protected area. In the Baltic Sea there is a need to protect fish spawning sites. It is known that many fish need shallow (less than 2 m) waters for spawning . However, exact locations of the sites are not known as they are hardly accessible. The situation is quite similar worldwide. For example recent remote sensing studies on Australian coral reefs revealed that some of the areas declared as no-go zones even for scientists contain only bare sand. The EU Water Framework Directive, international and national legislation require monitoring of coastal water state. Benthic algal cover and changes in it are indicators of ecological state. However, monitoring of the benthic algal cover in all coastal waters by diving is an unrealistic task. We propose to use high spatial resolution remote sensing data in combination with in situ measurements and spatial modelling to map benthic type, macroalgal cover and water depth in shallow coastal areas. The latter is important also for sailing and boating safety (tourism industry) as nautical charts are inaccurate in waters less than 5 m deep where hydrographic ships usually cannot go. Remote sensing can provide locations of shallows and larger rocks dangerous for navigation. The main objective of this project is to develop tools for spatial planning of activities in shallow (less than 10 m) coastal waters based on high resolution remote sensing data and spatial modelling. Combining in situ measurements with the remote sensing data and spatial modelling we will create a (GIS based) tool that allows to map all coastal waters and not only a few selected, spatially very limited, sites (that can be studied based solely on in situ methods). In the process we will create maps of bottom types, macroalgal cover and water depth that will be used in planning marine protected areas, increasing navigation safety and coastal management of archipelago areas. The work is divided into 4 WPs. An addition to project management and coordination (WP1) these include: Testing capabilities of remote sensing in mapping relevant information in shallow waters (WP2), Spatial modelling of the key species and habitats in the coastal range of Estonia and Sweden (WP3), and Harmonising the spatial planning needs and remote sensing capabilities (WP4). Achievements: HISPARES combined knowledge of high spatial resolution remote sensing, marine benthic biology/ecology, GIS (Geographic Information System) and spatial modelling into a map-based tool that allows for spatial planning decisions to be made in shallow coastal water areas on the basis of scientifically-sound data. The partners tested their methods and trialled the map-based tool in the most sensitive archipelago areas in Estonia and Sweden covering Natura2000 areas, fish spawning sites and locations with ongoing or planned human activities. The results from the test sites were made publicly available through a GIS-server to demonstrate the usefulness of the map-based tool in national environmental monitoring programmes, assessing environmental impact of human activities and increasing navigation safety in shallow archipelago areas.
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  • 2007 - 2013 Central Baltic (FI-SE-EE-LA)
  • Project on KEEP Platform
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