Ecosystems and Environment
The wide-ranging and multidisciplinary Ecosystems and Environment Research Programme (ECOENV) investigates the effects of human activity on land and aquatic ecosystems, as well as how these effects are reflected in society. Our researchers are looking for solutions to current environmental problems. Societally, research-based knowledge in environmental sciences can be used to curb climate change as well as foster biodiversity and habitats in support of environmental and human wellbeing.
Research focus areas
  • Arctic Regions
  • The Baltic Sea and its drainage basins
  • Urban areas


Each research focus area is linked to the sustainable development goals of the United Nations.

Arctic research

Research on Arctic regions is focused on both long-term climate fluctuations and the causes of recent global warming, as well as the effects of climate change on ecosystems.

Central research topics include the Arctic carbon cycle and the role of black carbon in climate change, as well as the development of climate risks in society.

Research on the Baltic Sea and its drainage basins

Research on the Baltic Sea and its drainage basins is focused on the structure and function of marine and inland aquatic ecosystems, including the effects of climate change and eutrophication on the diversity of aquatic ecosystems.

We also assess environmental risks posed by fishing and marine traffic, and study changes in drainage basins caused by humans.

Urban studies

The aim of urban studies is to investigate and solve environmental issues related to urbanisation. The research focuses on the environmental governance of urban areas, particularly in terms of curbing and adapting to climate change, as well as on the biodiversity of urban environments and the ecosystem services produced by green areas.

In addition, we investigate social values, environmental justice and subjective wellbeing.


The strengths of the Ecosystems and Environment Research Programme include

  • Active research groups that conduct first-class scientific research
  • World-class scientific output by our researchers that has societal impact
  • Field stations with high-quality research and teaching platforms, from the Baltic Sea to the Arctic
  • Success in acquiring external funding
  • Diverse publishing activities
Research Programme ECOENV Directors

Director Sirkku Manninen and Deputy Director David Thomas

Figures in 2020

Our research groups have strong ties to research networks at both the University of Helsinki and on the international stage. Our cooperation partners include Aalto University, the University of Auckland (New Zealand), Stockholm University, the member universities of the University of the Arctic (UIA) network, the Chinese Academy of Sciences as well as the Finnish Meteorological Institute and the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE).

Other important partners are the cities of Helsinki, Lahti and Kotka, as well as other operators which support and fund research, including the Nottbeck Foundation, the Onni Talas Foundation, the R. Erik & Bror Serlachius Foundation, the Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland, the Lake Vesijärvi Foundation, the Port of Hanko and Viking Line.


Our teaching is based on research, and our researchers provide instruction in bachelor’s and master’s programmes, as well as the doctoral programmes organised by the doctoral schools.