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6. Manuals and guidelines

European Habitats Manual

There are currently 233 habitat types listed on Annex I of the Habitats Directive and described in the EU Interpretation Manual.

However many countries, and some regions, have published their own guides to the habitats of Annex I. These vary from translations of the EU guidance, although often with photos, to detailed descriptions of the habitats as they occur in a given country or region. In some countries guidance takes the form of a table of correspondence with a national classification of habitats, as in Romania and the United Kingdom.

The habitats are also discussed in Evans (2006), "The habitats of the European union Habitats Directive", Proc. Royal Irish Acad.-Section B, Biol. Environ. 106 (3) , pp. 167–173 and Evans, D. (2010) Interpreting the habitats of Annex I -- Past, present and future. Acta Botanica Gallica 157(4) 677- 686.

Marine guidelines

The establishment of the Natura 2000 network in the marine environment is one of the most immediate challenges for the EU Member States in the field of biodiversity conservation. In May 2007, the European Commission published specific guidelines on selection of marine Natura 2000 sites. The marine biogeographical seminars will focus on the habitats and species known as ‘marine reserves’ from the past terrestrial biogeographical seminars. They shall also focus on other Habitats Directive Annex I habitats and Annex II species known to be present in the marine environment in certain lifecycle stages.

The site evaluation criteria used in the terrestrial biogeographical seminars required some examination to see if they are applicable in the marine environment. Some general principles have been already provided by the European Commission in 1997 (Hab. 97/2 rev. 4 18/11/97) with further clarification on certain species and taxonomic groups by the European Topic Centre on Biological Diversity in 2002 (Habitats SWG 2002-02 rev13). Still, this issue required further discussion and possibly adaptation of methods for the marine environment. In October 2009 the European Topic Centre on Biological Diversity (ETC/BD) was asked to prepare Additional guidelines for assessing sufficiency of Natura 2000 proposals (SCIs) for marine habitats and species. This paper is only a guiding document indicating which criteria could be used in sufficiency evaluations and their relative importance in decision-making. The guidelines include five habitat types from the Habitats Directive Annex I and 16 species from Annex II, which are truly or partly ‘marine’.

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