The Baltic Sea Action Plan Fund finances nine new projects aimed at a healthier Baltic Sea environment. The recently approved projects cover wastewater treatment, sea-bed activities, hazardous substances and recycling of nutrients.

The Baltic Sea Action Plan Fund (the BSAP Fund) provides support for actions and measures that promote a healthy Baltic Sea environment. The latest call for proposals in December 2021 resulted in financing for nine projects worth EUR 1.08 million that will try to offer solutions to environmental problems in the Baltic Sea. The majority of the projects will focus on offering solutions to problems related to wastewater treatment, sea-bed activities and recycling of nutrients. In addition to the nine newly approved projects, fifteen other projects are currently ongoing.

“We are proud to co-manage the Baltic Sea Action Plan Fund together with NIB, a role we have performed since the fund was started in 2010. The Baltic Sea was the seed of Nefco’s origin and we are pleased to facilitate financing for bankable projects that improve the environment of the Baltic Sea and its catchment area,” says Trond Moe, Managing Director, Nefco. “On the Baltic Sea Day, we are happy to share updates on the concrete actions that the BSAP Fund facilitates and keep raising awareness of the importance of a healthy Baltic Sea.”

Two new projects focusing on sustainable dredging

One of the critical challenges facing the Baltic Sea is eutrophication due to an excess of external and internal nutrients discharged into its waters. One ecological objective of the updated Baltic Sea Action Plan implemented by HELCOM is to make the Baltic Sea a front-runner in the field of environmentally sustainable sea-based activities and promote respectful dredging activities. Two new BSAP Fund projects by Tullstopsån Ekonomisk Förening and Luode Consulting support this goal.

Tullstorpsån Ekonomisk Förening is an organisation from southern Sweden focused on improving the retention of nutrients in fields to prevent their discharge into the Baltic Sea. The new financing from the BSAP Fund is for the second part of its project, which entails the construction of two full-scale drainage systems. The aim is to demonstrate that controlled drainage can be a potential mitigation action to help tackle the ongoing effects of climate change.

“The Tullstorp stream is highly impacted by nutrient leakage from agriculture. Since 2009, significant actions have been carried out in the area to decrease nutrient leakage to the Baltic Sea, like 50 new wetlands and the restoration of 25 km of the river course, but they are not enough,” comments Christoffer Bonthron, Project Manager at Tullstorpsån Ekonomisk Förening. “Our project can show that customised drainage in agriculture can decrease leakages to water courses while increasing agricultural production through higher yields,” says Bonthron.

The Finnish company Luode Consulting is investigating whether clay from dredging activities can be used to prevent or slow down the release of phosphorus from areas of the sea bed with severe oxygen deprivation. “Currently, dredging material is dumped in marine areas selected on the basis of flow and depth criteria. However, these materials should be placed in predefined areas with high potential for the internal phosphorus load. In a pilot study carried out in 2021, we were able to cut the phosphorus load by 21 to 84% in laboratory-incubated sediment samples,” says Mikko Kiirikki, Luode Consulting’s Director.

Financing from the BSAP Fund will help the company conduct a real-scale experiment in the Baltic Sea and prevent the blooming of toxic blue-green algae. The project will be conducted in close collaboration with a research institute, which will also receive financing from the BSAP Fund for supporting laboratory experiments.

Restoration of wetlands to reduce eutrophication

Most of the wetlands in the Baltic Sea have been removed for agricultural or forestry activities. Wetlands control the eutrophication of surrounding waters through the absorption of eutrophic nutrients by vegetation in the area.

Since 2020, the Swedish NGO Blekinge Archipelago has been restoring wetlands within the Blekinge Archipelago in southeast Sweden. Financing from the BSAP Fund will support its project aimed at reducing eutrophication from the discharge of nitrogen, phosphorous and humus into the Baltic Sea while strengthening the biodiversity of the region. With this financial support, the organisation will hire a limnologist to strengthen actions aimed at restoring one wetland in each of the four biosphere municipalities, prioritising areas in which the impact of wetland will be greatest.

Wastewater projects for a healthy Baltic Sea

The Baltic Sea Action Group has received financing from the BSAP Fund to evaluate the potential of turning grey water from cargo ships into biogas and discharging it ashore, a solution that supports circularity and the prevention of sea pollution. Currently, cargo ships are allowed to discharge grey water into the Baltic Sea if the cargo is not classified as harmful to the marine environment. These discharges may include nutrients and other substances that have negative effects on the sensitive environment of the sea and can exacerbate eutrophication.

Other projects that will receive financing from the BSAP Fund include the renovation of a wastewater treatment plant to increase its capacity, a feasibility study to scale up algae cultivation and remove nutrients from the sea and the development of a strategy for hazardous substances in the Baltics. Visit the BSAP Fund page for the list of financed projects.

The next call for project applications that address the needs highlighted in the Baltic Sea Action Plan is estimated to be announced towards the end of 2022.

For further information, please contact:

Dennis Hamro-Drotz, Senior Programme Manager, Nefco
dennis.hamro-drotz@nefco.int, (+358) 010 6180 641

 

Luode Consulting sampling at sea
Luode Consulting staff taking some sediment samples from the Baltic Sea

About the Baltic Sea Action Plan Fund

The Baltic Sea Action Plan Fund (the BSAP Fund) was set up in 2010 to help speed up the implementation of the Baltic Sea Action Plan. The key purpose of the BSAP Fund is to facilitate and speed up the preparation of bankable projects from both public and private entities. To date, these grants have accelerated investments by up to two years, speeding up the implementation of the projects and their environmental benefits for the Baltic Sea. Since the establishment of the BSAP Fund, 41 projects with demonstrable effects have been completed.

For more information on the Baltic Sea Action Plan Fund, please visit www.nefco.int/bsap.