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Slight improvement in Nature Index values in coastal waters


1.1 Norwegian ecosystems will achieve good status and deliver ecosystem services.


Ecological status and trends for the following major ecosystems: marine and coastal waters, rivers and lakes, wetlands, forest, mountains and cultural landscapes (see the Norwegian Nature Index and the Water Management Regulations)

Nature Index values for coastal waters – seabed

Nature Index values for coastal waters – pelagic


Are we moving in the right direction? Published by the Norwegian Environment Agency

This indicator for coastal waters describes the state of biodiversity as measured by the Norwegian Nature Index in 2014. An indicator based on the requirements of the Water Management Regulations is described here.

Overall, the state of biodiversity in coastal ecosystems has shown a slight improvement since 1990, but there has been a small decline in Nature Index values from 2010 to 2014. In 2014, the Nature Index values for Norway as a whole were 0.62 for seabed ecosystems and 0.72 for pelagic ecosystems (in this system, the reference state is given the value 1, and is defined to correspond to minimal disturbance from human activities.)

The positive overall trend is mainly explained by an improvement in Nature Index values for species in pelagic ecosystems, including phytoplankton and the common seal. The state of seabed biodiversity has been fairly stable during this period.

After 2010, Nature Index values for pelagic ecosystems have shown some decline, but not in Eastern Norway. The decline is explained by weaker coastal populations of herring, sandeels and a number of seabird species. Along the coast of Eastern Norway, inputs of nutrients carried by ocean currents from the southern part of the North Sea have been reduced since the mid-1990s. As a result, populations of phytoplankton have been healthy in recent years, providing a good basis for population growth in most marine animal species.

In general, Nature Index values are somewhat lower for seabed ecosystems than for pelagic ecosystems. Populations of some species are low, for example sugar kelp, lobster and certain fish, although they have shown some recovery since the late 1990s. Kelp forests have shown major changes since then, with a positive trend in some areas and a negative trend in others. In Nordland county, particularly the southern half, kelp forests are becoming re-established, but there are still large areas further north that are severely overgrazed by sea urchins.