An integrated simulation model to evaluate national policies for the abatement of agricultural nutrients in the Baltic Sea
This study introduces a prototype model for evaluating policies to abate agricultural nutrients in the Baltic Sea from a Finnish national point of view. The stochastic simulation model integrates nutrient dynamics of nitrogen and phosphorus in the sea basins adjoining the Finnish coast, nutrient loads from land and other sources, benefits from nutrient abatement (in the form of recreation and other ecosystem services) and the costs of agricultural abatement activities. The aim of this study is to present the overall structure of the model and to demonstrate its potential using preliminary parameters. The model is made flexible for further improvements in all of its ecological and economic components. Results of a sensitivity analysis suggest that investments in reducing the nutrient runoff from arable land in Finland would become profitable only if Finland’s neighbors in the northern Baltic committed themselves to similar reductions. Environmental investments for improving water quality yield the highest returns for the Bothnian Bay and the Gulf of Finland, and smaller returns for the Bothnian Sea. In the Bothnian Bay, the abatement activities become profitable because the riverine loads from Finland represent a high proportion of the total nutrient loads. In the Gulf of Finland, this proportion is low, but the size of the coastal population benefiting from improved water quality is high.
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