luni, 21 septembrie 2009

Mapping Natura 2000 habitats across Europe

A recent study has described a way to accurately map the distribution of different habitats across Europe. These maps contribute to the development of a Pan-European Ecological Network1 designed to conserve and manage the natural heritage of pan-Europe.

Destruction of natural habitats is a major cause of biodiversity loss and the EU has implemented a number of initiatives designed to combat this problem, notably the Habitats and Birds Directives2. Central to the EU nature and biodiversity policy is the Natura 20003 network, which covers more than 25,000 sites and makes up around 17 per cent of the total area of the EU. It is the largest network of protected areas in the world and the backbone of the Pan-European Ecological Network.

Habitats can be described by a number of different classification systems. This study used the habitat definitions given in Annex 1 of the Habitats Directive. Annex 1 currently defines 231 Natura 2000 habitat types, covering a range of marine and land-based habitats, including 71 priority habitats. Each habitat is classified under one of nine major categories: for example, forests or freshwater habitats.


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