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3.3.1 Habitat mapping: the EUNIS nomenclature

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The European Nature Information System (EUNIS) habitat classification is a pan-European system, which covers all types of natural and artificial habitats, both aquatic and terrestrial; the system was developed through the collaboration of a wide range of scientists and conservation managers, by the analysis of empirical data sets, and the review of other classifications and scientific literature [Fraschetti, 2008].

EUNIS classification is organised into hierarchical levels: the current version of the classification starts at level 1, where ‘Marine habitats’ are defined and distinguished from different continental habitats , up to level 6 [Galparsoro et al., 2012]. The criteria for defining marine habitats up to level 2 are presented in Figure 1. Levels 2 and 3 are based only on physical features while biological assemblages are explicitly required to reach Level 4. This level allows for coupling marine habitats as previously defined with ecological functions and ecosystem services without including excessive details. ES assessment in VALMER should be based on EUNIS Level 4 classification as a tradeoff between the current knowledge on ecosystem functioning and marine habitats and the need to discriminate spatially the valuation of ecosystem services. As EUNIS typology is a hierarchical system, it can be used for habitat mapping at different spatial scales.


3 2 1 Eunis
Figure: EUNIS habitat classification: criteria to define marine habitats at Level 2.

3 2 1 Eunis example

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