Research Article

Landscape Ecology

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 11-25

First online:

A standardized procedure for surveillance and monitoring European habitats and provision of spatial data

  • R. G. H. BunceAffiliated withAlterra Wageningen University and Research Centre Email author 
  • , M. J. MetzgerAffiliated withEnvironmental Systems Analysis group, Wageningen UniversityCentre for the Study of Environmental Change and Sustainability (CECS), School of Geo-Sciences, University of Edinburgh
  • , R. H. G. JongmanAffiliated withAlterra Wageningen University and Research Centre
  • , J. BrandtAffiliated withDepartment of Environmental, Social and Spatial Change, Roskilde University
  • , G. de BlustAffiliated withResearch Institute for Nature and Forest
  • , R. Elena-RosselloAffiliated withDepartment of Forestry, Polytechnic University of Madrid
  • , G. B. GroomAffiliated withDepartment of Wildlife Ecology and Biodiversity, NERI
  • , L. HaladaAffiliated withInstitute of Landscape Ecology, Slovak Academy of Sciences
  • , G. HoferAffiliated withART Agroscope Reckenholz-Tänikon, Swiss Federal Research Station
    • , D. C. HowardAffiliated withCentre for Ecology and Hydrology
    • , P. KovářAffiliated withFaculty of Science, Charles University
    • , C. A. MücherAffiliated withAlterra Wageningen University and Research Centre
    • , E. Padoa-SchioppaAffiliated withDepartment of Landscape and Environmental Sciences, University of Milano-Bicocca
    • , D. PaelinxAffiliated withDepartment of Environmental, Social and Spatial Change, Roskilde University
    • , A. PaloAffiliated withInstitute of Geography, University of Tartu
    • , M. Perez-SobaAffiliated withAlterra Wageningen University and Research Centre
    • , I. L. RamosAffiliated withCESUR
    • , P. RocheAffiliated withUniversity Paul Cezanne, IMEP UMR 6116 CNRS, Europole de l’Arbois
    • , H. SkånesAffiliated withDepartment of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, Stockholm University
    • , T. WrbkaAffiliated withInstitute of Conservation Biology, Vegetation Ecology and Landscape Ecology, University of Vienna

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Both science and policy require a practical, transmissible, and reproducible procedure for surveillance and monitoring of European habitats, which can produce statistics integrated at the landscape level. Over the last 30 years, landscape ecology has developed rapidly, and many studies now require spatial data on habitats. Without rigorous rules, changes from baseline records cannot be separated reliably from background noise. A procedure is described that satisfies these requirements and can provide consistent data for Europe, to support a range of policy initiatives and scientific projects. The methodology is based on classical plant life forms, used in biogeography since the nineteenth century, and on their statistical correlation with the primary environmental gradient. Further categories can therefore be identified for other continents to assist large scale comparisons and modelling. The model has been validated statistically and the recording procedure tested in the field throughout Europe. A total of 130 General Habitat Categories (GHCs) is defined. These are enhanced by recording environmental, site and management qualifiers to enable flexible database interrogation. The same categories are applied to areal, linear and point features to assist recording and subsequent interpretation at the landscape level. The distribution and change of landscape ecological parameters, such as connectivity and fragmentation, can then be derived and their significance interpreted.


Field recording Stratified sampling Biodiversity Monitoring Surveillance Raunkiaer plant life forms General habitat categories