LOGO-EEA LOGO-EEA Twinning Project TR02-EN-01
Capacity Building in the Field of Environment for Turkey (2004)
Component 3: Nature
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Basic Information on the European Environment Agency (EEA)

provided in 2004 by
Assoc. Prof. Dr. H. Kehl / Institute of Ecology / Berlin Technical University,
Email: harald.kehl(et)berlin.de
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Information sources: http://www.eea.eu.int/   [last online access: 22.11.06]
The European Environment Agency (EEA)

"was established under Council Regulation (EC) No. 1210/90, amended by Council Regulation (EC) No 933/1999", and is a European Community body which aims to support sustainable development and to help achieve significant and measurable improvement in Europe's environment through the provision of timely, targeted, relevant and reliable information to policy making agents and the public.

One of the aims of the European Environment Agency (EEA) is to produce

  • objective,
  • reliable and
  • comparable information.
For the evaluation of the state and trend of nature in Europe information on species is needed amongst others such as habitats and important sites.

The EAA focuses on biotopes (called "sites") of European importance for nature conservation. The term "biotope" was used to describe geographical entities of significance for nature conservation. Subsequently, these bio-geographical units are referred to as "sites", defined as:

  • An area of land or a water body which forms an ecological unit of Community significance for nature conservation, regardsless of whether this area is formally protected by legislation.

"Community significance" is determined by one or more OBJECTIVE SCIENTIFIC CRITERIA, which were developed by the Biotopes Team. The basis for these criteria is the assumption that the long-term conservation of species requires preservation of their full genetic diversity in order to guarantee their adaptive capacity. A similar approach is taken to ensure a balanced representation of the whole range of geographical diversity of important habitats, essential to their maintenance as a significant natural resource of the Community - online EEA, Topic report No 27/1996.


The information on the above mentioned sites, provided by the EEA, comes from a wide range of sources.

But the basic data sets comes from the 1985 founded "Coordination of information on the environment" (called CORINE). It was a prototype project working on many different environmental issues (from land cover and habitat classification to soil erosion). The CORINE databases and several of its programmes have been taken over by the EEA.  [last online access: 20.08.11]

One major source of the EEA (founded by the EEA)

is the European environment information and observation network (online Eionet) with its different European Topic Centres (ETCs), located in different European countries (cf. list of actual ETCs below!).  [last online access: 20.08.11]

The EEA is responsible for developing the network and coordinating the activities of Eionet.


Other important tools and institutions of Eionet are e.g.:  [last online access: 20.08.11]


"The European topic centres (ETCs) designated to date are multi-institutional (multi-organisational) consortia consisting of a lead organisation, which provides the ETC manager and a number (currently between 7 and 12) of partner organisations (ETC partners). Thus, an ETC consortium consists of ETC lead organisation and ETC partners." Definition by EEA.  [last online access: 27.01.05]

The EEA Management Board designated ETCs often for a limited period of time.


Its European Topic Centres - e.g. - on Nature Protection and Biodiversity (ETC-NPB / Paris) supports the Agency by collecting, harmonising and analysing data for European environmental indicators and reports on nature and biodiversity.

  • The ETC-NPB in Paris is responsible for the development of the EUNIS habitat classification categories!
The European environment information and observation network - Eionet
  The EEA works closely together with national focal points (NFPs) - sometimes called national focal centres (NFCs) -, typically national environment agencies or environment ministries in the member states.
European Topic Centres (ETCs)
of the EEA (on/for) are e.g.:
Abbr. Responsible / Address
for Nature Protection and Biodiversity ETC / NPB Led by the France:
MNHN (Paris)
European Topic Centre on Water ETC / W Led by the United Kingdom:
WRc-Group (UK)
Air and Climate Change ETC / ACC Led by the Netherlands:
Resource and Waste Management
(new name since 1.Jan.2005)
ETC / RWM Led by the Denmark:
EPA (Copenhagen)
Terrestrial Environment ETC / TE Led by the Spain:
University Barcelona
  [last updated on 20.08.2011]
Basic Information on data collection, management and analysis
Introduction of EEA - (Brochure), 6 pp. 0,82MB
  Environment Assessment Report (EEA EAR No.10, 2003), 344 pp. 12,71MB
Terms & Definitions: (according to Oxford Concise Dictionary of Ecology, 1996, partly modified)
  Biotope: A clearly recognizable > environmental region characterized by certain conditions and populated by a characteristic > biota. It is the smallest possible geographic region of a > habitat.
  Biosphere: The part of the Earth's environment in which living organisms are found, and with which they interact to produce a steady-state system, effectively a whole-planet > ecosystem.
  Biota: Plants and animals occupying a place together (e.g. marine biota, terrestrial biota etc.)
  Biotic: Applied to the living components of the > biosphere or of an > ecosystem, as distinct from the abiotic physical and chemical components.
  Ecology: The scientific study of the interrelationships among organisms and between organisms, and between them and all aspects, living and non-living, of their > environment. The German Ernst Heinrich Haeckel is usually credited with having coined the word 'Ökologie' (ecology) in 1866.
  Ecosystem: Ecological System: A term first used by the British ecologist A.G. Tansley in 1935 to describe a discrete unit that consists of living and non-living parts, interacting to form a stable system. Fundamental concepts include the flow of energy via food-chains and food-webs, and the cycling of nutrients biogeochemically. Ecosystem principles can be applied at all scales. Principles that apply to an ephemeral pond, for example, apply equally to a lake, an ocean, or the whole planet.
In Russian and central European literature 'biogeocoenosis' describes the same concept.
  Environment: The complete range of external conditions, physical and biological, in which an organism lives. Environment includes social, cultural, and (for humans) economic and political considerations, as well as the more usually understood features such as soil, climate, and food supply.
  Habitat: A habitat (from the Latin habitare for "it inhabits") is the place where a particular organism usually lives or grows.
With other words: It is the living place of an organism or community, characterized by its physical or > biotic properties.

Habitat type is defined for the purposes of the EUNIS habitat type classification as follows:

'Plant and animal communities as the characterising elements of the biotic environment, together with abiotic factors operating together at a particular scale.'

All factors included in the definition are addressed in the descriptive framework of the habitat classification (criteria & descriptions - Febr. 2002).

Copyright © Dr. Harald Kehl
Alumnus of TU-Berlin - Institute of Ecology

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