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Ecosystem Services

In the Coastal Zone of the Nordic Countries

image of Ecosystem Services

People are dependent on the ocean and coasts and their resources for their survival and well-being. Coastal ecosystems of the Nordic countries, such as kelp forests, blue mussel beds, eelgrass meadows and shallow bays and inlets, provide a number of supporting, provisioning, regulating, and cultural ecosystem services to both the local communities as well as the wider population who benefit from them. The study has focused on examining these coastal values through selected examples, and recommend possible applications and relevance for the management of the Nordic coastal areas and their resources. The project has also identified key gaps in the knowledge and suggests where further work should be emphasized.

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Introduction

Marine and coastal biotopes are among the most productive ecosystems on earth and provide a range of social and economic benefits to humans. As much as one third of the world’s population lives in coastal areas, which covers only 4% of the Earth’s total land area. In 2013, 135 million tons of shellfish, seafood and aquatic plants were harvested from the ocean for food and industrial application (FAO 2015), comprising 16% of the global population’s animal protein intake (FAO 2014). Worldwide, nearly 200 million full-time equivalent jobs are found in marine fisheries alone, accounting for about one in every fifteen people employed on the planet (Teh and Sumaila 2013). Furthermore, coastal tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors of global tourism and provides direct and indirect employment for many people and generates local incomes.

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