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BONUS projects show good ‘midterm’ results

It is now that BONUS, the joint Baltic Sea research and development programme, is reaching its true midterm with 7 research projects completing their third and 8 their second year, 5 innovation projects having just finished and 8 about to in 2017. Also, 12 new projects will start in 2017 and carry on until 2020. This is a good time to take stock of what has been achieved so far. A glimpse of some highlights underlines the continuity from the work started by 16 BONUS+ pilot projects in 2009–2011.

Slowing down and eventually reversing the human induced eutrophication is by far the greatest challenge for environmental policy and management in the Baltic Sea region. Equipped by results of the ensemble modelling approach, already BONUS+ ECOSUPPORT project issued the first scientifically sound warning that the nutrient load reductions will have to become even more stringent in order to control eutrophication under the future climate. At the same time, BONUS+ AMBER demonstrated how differently sub-regions may respond to the climate change, while BONUS+ HYPER and INFLOW scientists where the first to confirm decisively that the dramatic expansion of oxygen depleted zones is caused by the excess nutrient inputs and the ongoing climate warming will, most possibly, aggravate this depletion even further. Coupled physical biogeochemical and food-web modelling for better and more comprehensive projections of the future Baltic is now being developed further within the BONUS BALTICAPP project. The enormous body of information and models produced by the BONUS+ RECOCA project demonstrated the net effects of various nutrient reduction measures and provided scientific basis for revision of the country-wise nutrient reduction targets by HELCOM. Further significant progress with development and calibration of the hydrological catchment model has been now achieved by the BONUS SOILS2SEA project while BONUS GO4BALTIC has analysed how different crop rotation schemes support achieving the aims of water, climate and welfare policies. Forests are important elements of land use in the Baltic Sea drainage. They control much of nutrient leaching into the coastal zones and regulate climate change acting as CO2 sinks. BONUS BALTCOAST has developed the Baltic Sea costs’ effectiveness model by including forests in the models of 23 drainage basins. This enables further integration of different policy arenas: water quality, climate change, and different land uses in the catchment of the Baltic Sea. Carbon flows connect ecosystems and human activities across the entire Baltic Sea drainage basin (as in any other inland waterbody, sea or ocean). While BONUS+ BALTIC-C project contributed significantly to our incomplete knowledge on the carbon cycle in the Baltic Sea, scientists of the ongoing BONUS BIO-C3 project have delivered new information on the fate of dissolved organic carbon in the Baltic Sea. Future marine monitoring and observation will see a massive entry of new genomic methods. BONUS BLUEPRINT project has already identified 54 genes in the Baltic Sea prokaryotic plankton showing particular potential as genes that might serve as good “genetic signatures” when observing the ecosystem’s response to environmental stressors. These genes will be given particular attention in future studies. The highlights are numerous and many critically important topics range from importance of genetic diversity and productivity of Baltic species to resolving spatial challenges, and from ensuring safer and cleaner shipping to working towards increasingly accelerated industry contributions towards the good status of the environment of the Baltic Sea. The BONUS results are now accumulating rapidly as do their noteworthiness in the policy and socio-economic landscapes shaping the future of the region. Four BONUS projects have also flagship project statuses and represent the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region programme's achievements as well: BONUS CHANGE, (Policy Area HAZARDS), BONUS ESABALT (Policy Area SAFE), BONUS SHEBA (Policy Area SHIP) and BONUS STORMWINDS (Policy Area SAFE). Detailed information on implementation of all BONUS projects can be found on the BONUS website where most up-to-date periodic and final summary reports of each BONUS project are published. For these, visit This article has been modified from an article first published in BONUS in Brief December 2016, available online at


BONUS, Baltic Sea, Research, Innovation, Sustainable development, Sustainable use of goods and services


Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Sweden