Virtual tools, so called decision support tools (DSTs) can be helpful for managers handling Baltic Sea environmental issues. In order for end-users to find a suitable tool, the BONUS DESTONY project has created an online catalogue of existing DSTs.

Information about 42 decision support tools are currently available in the database. For each tool useful background information is provided, as well as information on where the tool and documentation on its use can be found. Data is also provided on how many of the DESTONY definition criteria the tool fulfil and how it performs regarding the fifteen performance criteria. This enables an end-user both to find a tool in his or her area of interest and to evaluate if, for example, the time effort, ease of use or the confidence assessment of the results is at a desired level.

BONUS DESTONY project has also analysed the remaining end-user demands for DSTs. Tools that support the development of plans and programs of measures should be prioritized, and tools dealing with issues such as nonindigenous species and marine litter remain to be developed. Long time funding and commitment of the hosts and close cooperation with the end-users are also important issues to consider in the future development of decision support tools for the Baltic Sea environment.

Proposals for future development of DSTs

To satisfy unmet needs:

  • Tools that address impacts on welfare and link environmental and socio-economic aspects should be developed.
  • DSTs covering topics not previously considered need to be developed: especially for non-indigenous species, but also for marine litter and underwater noise.
  • New DSTs should support the development of plans and programs of measures, especially for the topics biodiversity, non-indigenous species, eutrophication and human uses and conflicts.

To increase the quality of tools:

  • Outcome uncertainties should be documented and communicated – this important feature is not available in most existing DSTs.
  • To fulfil the ecosystem approach, standard formats for DST inputs and outputs should be developed to enable interoperability - one tool covering all segments is not needed.
  • DSTs need a host with continuous funding for maintenance and further development to be operational and useful for end-users.
  • Tools should be flexible, so that the output can be adjusted according to the needs of specific end-users.

To increase awareness and use:

  • End-users should play an essential role in the development of DSTs, even take part in the development.
  • End-users need training and guidance: user-friendly guidelines, online tutorials – even cooperation with tool hosts.
  • Awareness of existing tools has to be increased: end-users need information about existing DST – we made a database, it has to be maintained!


Further reading

How do virtual tools support the management of the Baltic Sea? (Policy Brief no 1)

High transparency but lack of confidence assessment in Baltic Sea decision support tools (Policy Brief no 2)

New tools needed for plans of measures and for new topics (Policy Brief no 3)


Visit to search the database!



DESTONY is short for Decision support tool for management of the Baltic Sea ecosystem. The project runs 2018–2020 and is coordinated by Vivi Fleming, Finnish Environmental Institute (SYKE). Participating partners are Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde (IOW), Aarhus University and Stockholm University Baltic Sea Center. BONUS DESTONY receives funds from BONUS (Art. 185), which is jointly funded by the EU, the Academy of Finland, Innovation Fund Denmark and the Swedish Research Council Formas.

For questions about the project or if you want to receive the Policy Briefs in a printed form please contact Lisa Bergqvist at