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Tuesday, 25 February 2014

26/02/2014 Terrestrial habitat mapping in Europe: an overview

There is a long history of mapping both habitats and vegetation, using both field and remote sensing methods in Europe and, largely due to the 1992 EU Habitats Directive, there has been a marked increase in habitat mapping of large areas in the European Union over the past 25 years. This report, initiated by the French Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle was jointly published by the European Environment Agency and the Muséum. With over 70 contributors brought together by the EEA's European Topic Centre on Biological Diversity and the museum's Service du Patrimoine Naturel, it gives an overview of recent work together with a historical perspective and a review of methods used.

The report which can be downloaded from the EEA's website focuses on projects which cover large areas, often entire countries, at relatively large scales (typically 1:50 000) and using a classification which could be related to systems developed by phytosociology (the study of plant communities). Several projects are described in some detail as case studies aiming to highlight not only the variety of methods used but also the organization required for successful projects.

The report highlights the role played by phytosociologists in the development of habitat mapping across Europe and the need for compatible classifications. The EEA’s EUNIS habitat classification has an important role in such initiatives.

While publishing this report we learnt that Professor Jean-Marie Géhu had passed away. He was an internationally renown French phytosociologist who made essential contributions to our knowledge and understanding of vegetation in Europe and in the Middle East. We would like to dedicate this report to him.

Terrestrial habitat mapping in Europe