MARXAN site selection tool in MSP


The modelling tool MARXAN is a tool normally known to be used for selection of sites for nature protection. In the BaltSeaPlan project however, it was tested in MSP for site selection of i.e. offshore wind power and/or fishery areas.

Sea Basin(s): 
March 2013
Application in MSP: 
Unknown effect
Nature protection
Offshore renewable energy production
Submarine cables and pipelines
Type of Issue: 
Environment aspects
Safety aspects
Social aspects
Type of practice: 
Stage of MSP cycle: 
Analyse spatial aspects
Cross-border / trans-national aspect: 

Questions this practice may help answer

  • What are suitable sites for offshore wind parks?

Implementation context

In BaltSeaPlan, the Marxan software was applied to site selection for offshore wind power plants at the area Pomeranian Bight/Arkona Basin consisting of parts of the EEZs of Denmark, Sweden, Poland and Germany.

Aspects / Objectives

Initially, the software Marxan was developed to provide decision support for systematic nature conservation planning. In BaltSeaPlan, it was used for finding the most suitable offshore wind production areas.


A study area for Marxan is divided into planning units. The input features for Marxan are grouped into target or conservation features and costs. Wind resources served as main target features in the given case. Monetary costs, varying with the physical environment, were taken into account. In addition, opportunity costs with regard to forgone / limited functionality of other uses were considered.

Main Outputs / Results

Based on scenarios exploring options of different demand for electricity, technical solutions and political decisions optimal sites for offshore wind power production were identified. These were compared with designations in national plans.


The tool can be adopted for other site selection analyses as long as the planning question can be reduced to a setup that meets the way Marxan handles a problem.

Contact PersonS

Christian Mohn

Aarhus University


Phone: +45 (0) 87158564


Cordula Göke

Aarhus University


Phone: +45 87 15 86 51

Responsible Entity

Aarhus University

Funding Source

Funding source: Baltic Sea Region Programme 2007-2013