Status classification

The ecological status of the surface waters is classified as part of river basin management planning every six years. The work is part of the implementation of the national Water Management Act (1299/2004) and the EU Water Framework Directive. A similar assessment is conducted in all EU Member States.

The ecological status is assessed based on the magnitude of the change caused by human activity. The work provides information on the surface waters that need measures to achieve or maintain at least good status.

The most recent assessment result can be viewed with an online web map application Water Map (Vesikartta in Finnish). National assessment results are available in a status map (pdf) and a bar chart.

Ecological status

The assessment and classification of ecological status is primarily based on biological quality elements. In addition, physico-chemical (e.g. nutrient concentrations, pH) and hydromorphological (e.g. hydrological regime and morphological conditions) quality elements are used in the assessment of ecological quality.

The biological quality elements include phytoplankton, macrophytes and phytobenthos, benthic invertebrate fauna and fish fauna. The assessment is done by comparing the monitoring results in the biological parameters from a water body to the values for these parameters in the reference conditions applicable to that water body.

The reference conditions represent the values of the biological quality elements at high ecological status. The reference values have been defined for all biological quality elements and surface water types either spatially based or based on modelling.

The ecological status assessment results are expressed by Ecological Quality Ratio (EQR) which is a numerical value between zero and one. High ecological status is represented by values close to one and bad ecological status by values close to zero.

Classification cycles and guidances

The ecological and chemical status of surface water bodies in Finland has been classified three times. The first classification was completed in 2008, the second in 2013, and the currently tentative third in 2019.
The assessment was carried out in collaboration between Syke, Luke (Natural Resources Institute Finland) and ELY Centres (the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment) in 2018-2019. The third assessment was mainly based on monitoring data from 2012-2017. The assessment was done according to national guidances Syke Reports 37/2019 (in Finnish). This guide compiles all relevant guidelines from previous periods supplemented by refined guidances for the third river basin management period. 

More information

Senior Researcher Jukka Aroviita, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE),

Published 2020-01-30 at 10:29, updated 2020-01-30 at 16:33