Research Article

Landscape Ecology

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 409-419

First online:

Objectives and Applications of a Statistical Environmental Stratification of Europe

  • R. H. G. JongmanAffiliated withAlterra, Wageningen UR Email author 
  • , R. G. H. BunceAffiliated withAlterra, Wageningen UR
  • , M. J. MetzgerAffiliated withWageningen University Plant Production Systems
  • , C. A. MücherAffiliated withAlterra, Wageningen UR
  • , D. C. HowardAffiliated withCentre for Ecology and Hydrology, Merlewood Research Station
  • , V. L. MateusAffiliated withDepto Planeamento Biofísico e Paisagístico, University of Évora, Colégio Luis Verney

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Stratifications are made to divide environmental gradients into convenient units and then to use these as areas in which objects and variables might have relatively consistent characteristics. Statistical classification is a useful approach for obtaining this insight into complex environmental patterns and help to simplify heterogeneity. Traditional classifications of the environment are mostly subjective and based on expert knowledge. They are largely intended for descriptive purposes. Present day techniques now allow for continent wide statistically based environmental stratifications that can be applied consistently throughout Europe. Such environmental stratifications can provide the basis for assessment and monitoring biodiversity, land cover and land use and be a starting point for reporting on the European environment. The stratification presented here allows upscaling and downscaling, if needed to reach specified objectives. It can be applied in environmental reporting. Its application as a framework for land cover estimation is elaborated using Portuguese Land cover data.


Clustering Environmental reporting Environmental stratification Europe Hierarchical approach Monitoring Principal components analysis Sampling strategy