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European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet)

‘Symphony’ and marine spatial planning in Swedish Geology

Symphony is a tool used by the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management (SwAM) to assess the cumulative impact of human activity in Swedish waters.

Symphony is a multicritera decision support tool that is based on the method developed in 2008 by Ben Halpern. It works to predict areas of relatively high or low human pressure by linking pressures to ecosystem components via a ‘sensitivity matrix’ and using cell-based calculations in a GIS environment.This approach assessment of cumulative impacts requires knowledge of a wide range of impacts and ecosystem components. Spatial ‘risk’ models could be created using expert judgment. These models would certainly be improved with good knowledge of the distribution of geological substrate types.

This is where the EMODnet Geology and the Bathymetry portal come into play. The EMODnet seafloor surface substrate data (and bathymetry data) for countries bordering Sweden were combined with the best available categorical map products within Swedish waters from the Geological Survey of Sweden (SGU). Transboundary data were important as impacts do not stop at national borders. This data was collated by SGU, then modelled with various other physical data to create ‘risk’ maps predicting the distribution of benthic abiotic conditions. This was used to infer varying degrees of sensitivity in the Symphony tool. In addition, the data was used by SwAMs consultants and SGU to model human pressures including for example anoxic sediment areas, toxin distribution, smoothing and mechanical damage due to shipping and fishing and underwater noise propagation.

The Symphony tool is currently being used by the marine planning unit at SWaM to model future scenarios and spatial policies, with a view to reducing the overall cumulative human impact in Sweden’s marine environment.

About SwAM

SwAM is the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management responsible for managing the use and preventing the overuse of Sweden marine and freshwater environments.