The CHARM project
will develop recommendations on typology, reference conditions and
monitoring strategies for implementing the EC Water Framework
Directive in the coastal zone of the Baltic Sea.
The project is sponsored by the European Commission and
coordinated by the National Environmental Research Institute,
Department of Marine Ecology in Denmark and project participants are
from research institutions in all countries around the Baltic Sea
except for Russia.
The project will run for three years starting January 2002.
CHARM has been
developed to provide a scientific foundation for fulfilling the
requirements of the EC
Water Framework Directive (WFD) in Baltic coastal waters. The
study will provide decision-makers with an internationally uniform
system to identify appropriate type areas and reference conditions
(required in the EC Water Framework Directive (WFD)) for the Baltic
ecoregion based on a sound scientific foundation.
The results of the study will further be used to identify the
degree of deviation from ideal reference conditions and the likely
response of Baltic coastal ecosystems to reduced anthropogenic
pollution. A key feature of this project is to ensure that the
results are made available to all end-users, especially
environmental decision-makers. The study is unique in that it
represents the only attempt to develop type areas and reference
conditions for an entire ecoregion i.e. across national borders, and
we expect that it will greatly contribute to harmonise national
approaches to implementing the WFD.
The scientific objectives of the study are to develop a common
methodology for establishing coastal types in the Baltic Sea by
identifying the key factors triggering ecosystem alteration and
their relative importance and key indicators for ecosystem
functioning in relation to alteration of the coastal ecosystems.
In addition, quantitative ecological relationships and empirical
models that describe the relationship between anthropogenic pressure
and key indicators in the coastal zone and ecological reference
conditions for Baltic coastal water bodies will be developed.
The WFD requires that the ecological state of all coastal waters
is quantified by first identifying appropriate type areas (typology)
and for each of the type areas establish reference conditions,
corresponding to pristine conditions, for different quality
elements. The ecological state of each parameter is referenced to
the pristine condition.
The Baltic Sea has, however, been strongly affected by
anthropogenic activities such as nutrient loading, pollution and
mechanical impact during the history of human occupation.
Consequently pristine reference conditions cannot be identified and
measured directly in this region.
An alternative method to derive reference conditions is to
develop functional relationships that relate anthropogenic pressures
to ecosystem responses. The project will result in recommendations
on how to develop new monitoring strategies for Baltic Sea coastal
ecosystems, based on the derived typology, reference conditions and
The implementation of the WFD constitutes a major change in the
management of coastal areas on the European level.
There is rarely co-ordination between administrative initiatives
and the scientific community. CHARM will provide a matching timeline
between the administrative procedures involved in implementing WFD
and development of a scientific basis for the proposed changes.
CHARM represents in that way a scientific answer to questions asked
by decision-makers and administrators and the community added value
is thus obvious.
CHARM will provide the tools to implement the WFD in a
scientifically sound manner, including a set of guidelines for
future monitoring in the Baltic ecoregion.
CHARM also provides a common approach for implementing the WFD in
the Baltic ecoregion that can be used by member states and applicant
countries, in addition to an international forum for exchange of
information between different national authorities and scientific