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Basic Information on EUNIS

provided in 2004 by Assoc. Prof. Dr. H. Kehl / formerly Inst. of Ecology / Berlin TU,
Email: harald.kehl(et)
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HomeAmanos Mtn.  | Project Area  | List of species 1 / 2  |  EEA | CORINE | NATURA2000 | EUNIS
Information sources:
[last online access: 08.10.2019]
What is the EUNIS application?  

EUNIS is the European Nature Information System, developed and managed by the


EUNIS includes: [last online access: 20.08.11]

  • Data on
  • compiled in the framework of NATURA2000 (EU Habitats and Birds Directives),

  • Data collected from frameworks, data sources or material published by the European Topic Centre for Nature Protection and Biodiversity (ETC/NPB) (formerly the ETC for Nature Conservation).
  • Information on Species, Habitats and Sites taken into account in relevant international conventions or from International Red Lists.
  • Specific data collected in the framework of the EEA's reporting activities, which also constitute a core set of data to be updated periodically.
What are the purposes of EUNIS?  

EUNIS data are collected and maintained to be used as a reference tool or dataset:

Information on EUNIS data.  

anim-spider-gifThe Species part of EUNIS contains information about more than 60.000 taxa with about 300.000 records in Europe of linked information (distribution, conservation, vernacular names etc.). However, the amount of information collected on each species varies in accordance with the potential use of the data:

  • Reference data is available for almost all EUNIS species except for the habitat preference parameter.

  • Spatial-temporal information (including species population size and trends) is available for Birds. For other Vertebrates (except Fish) and for Invertebrates and plants species of the EU Directives, only information on the occurrence by country and biogeographic region is available.

  • Data concerning the conservation status has been collected from all national Red Books made available to the ETC-NPB and from other relevant literature.
  Habitat Types:  

EUNIS Habitat types classification is a comprehensive pan-European system (using more than 30 classification-systems and more than 1.400 references) to facilitate the harmonised description and collection of data across Europe through the use of criteria for habitat identification; it covers all types of habitats from natural to artificial, from terrestrial to freshwater and marine - actually, more than 5.200 habitats over Europe.

It is built to link to and correspond with other major habitat systems in Europe:

  • It cross-references to all EU Habitat Directive types used for EU Member States and can be used as a basis for EU Habitat Directive extension for Accession Countries;

  • It builds on the CORINE and Palaearctic Habitat classifications. It will continue to include the Palaearctic Habitat classification's most detailed units as they are further developed over Europe for the Bern Convention EMERALD network (Resolution No.4);

  • It contains and will continue to include relevant marine habitat types as they are developed in collaboration with the OSPARCOM (Oslo and Paris Commission) marine work;

  • It cross-references to the Corine Land Cover classification, to some regional and national classifications, and to other systems such as the European Vegetation Survey (cf. SynBioSys Europe). [last online access: 20.08.11]

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.

  • The scope of the EUNIS classification is limited to its level 3 (level 4 for Marine habitat types). At level 4 (5 for the Marine types) and below, the component units are drawn from other classification systems and combine these in the common framework.

A criteria-based key has been developed for all units to level 3 and in addition for salt marshes at level 4. The Key takes the form of a sequential series of questions with additional detailed explanatory notes. Depending on the answer chosen, the user is directed to the next question in the series or to a habitat type identified by the parameters.

The user may follow the key question by question, or view the criteria for each habitat level in a series of static diagrams.

  The EUNIS habitat types,  

developed as a hierarchical - and more or less - simple (easy to use) classification system, by the ETC/NPB for the EEA as a pan-European tool, has 10 major habitat classes.

This system is a successor to the CORINE habitat classification. It uses a common language and links to to other classification systems. The units can be cross-matched to CLC map and habitats in Annex I of the European Habitats Directive, and consequentially to the NATURA 2000 habitat types.


A - Marine habitats
B - Coastal habitats
C - Inland surface water habitats
D - Mire, bog and fen habitats
E - Grassland and tall forb habitats
F - Heathland, scrub and tundra habitats
G - Woodland and forest habitats and other wooded land
H - Inland unvegetated or sparsely vegetated habitats
I - Regularly or recently cultivated agricultural, horticultural and domestic habitats
J - Constructed, industrial and other artificial habitats
X - Habitat complexes

  The full hierarchical structure of the classification system can be found within the Website of EUNIS. and in the framework of this documentation - cf. Further Information  
EXAMPLE for EUNIS Habitat classification HTML

EUNIS Sites is built around 7 data sets regarding sites. It contains more than 64.000 sites with related information. The Site module of the EUNIS application uses data from the following databases:

A. Site networks resulting from legal instruments:

  • Designated Areas (protected areas) at National level (common database on designated
    areas - CDDA national)
  • Designated Areas (protected areas) at International level (common database on designated
    areas - CDDA international)
  • European Nature Diploma Areas (Council of Europe)
  • Biogenetic Reserves (Council of Europe)
  • Pan-European Nature Conservation Policy and Legislation

B. Site networks resulting from other initiatives and programs:

C. Connection between the three modules (species / habitats / sites)

  • Data regarding species' preferred habitats have been collected through EU biogeographic seminars and via a network of experts.
  • Habitat types 'most typical species' information often comes from the definition and description of the habitat type itself.
  • Site datasets contain information about species and habitat types present (Biogenetic Reserves, Emerald, Natura 2000, Corine Biotopes)
Habitat lists ( - 2001):  
  All habitats included in the legislative lists can be located through cross-references in the EUNIS classification.  










European classifications COR
Palaearctic Palaearctic
EU Habitats Directive  

Annex I

CoE Bern Convention       ==>
Resolution No. 4 list
OSPAR Convention             ==>
1st OSPAR/ ICES/EEA workshop on Habitat classification
2nd OSPAR/ ICES/EEA workshop on Habitat classification  
International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES)                 Working Group on Marine Habitat Mapping
Basic precondition and information on data collection, management and analysis:

he data collection of NFPs and other national institutions
(on biotic and abiotic ecosystem elements) and the description of habitats is strongly related to (traditional & modern) scientific methods.

  • One of the most important preconditions for a successful habitat classification (description and evaluation) according to the FFH directive is the knowledge of species (flora & fauna), the basic application of scientific methods for environmental measurements (e.g. on soils, water, climate etc.), and the evaluation of existing data, i.e. (if available)

    • National survey data
    • National forestry inventories
    • National soil maps
    • National species data
    • National vegetation classifications etc.
    • Country specific scientific ecological researches and investigations
    • CLC data
    • Biotope classification data
    • Topographic maps, digital terrain models (e.g. Research Project LöKAT) etc.

    • and other - international - publications and sources, e.g.
      Atlas Florae Europaeae,
      [URL: / date of last access: 07.01.05]

      Atlas of Amphibians and Reptiles in Europe, Societas Europeae Herpetologic,
      [URL: / date of last access: 07.01.05]
      - Atlas of European Breeding Birds, European Bird Census Council,
      [URL: / date of last access: 07.01.05]
      - European Invertebrate Survey (EIS)
      [URL: , / date of last access: 07.01.05]

      -e.g. INTERNET:
      - EURO-MED Plant Database

      [URL: / date of last access: 07.04.06]

      - OPTIMA

      date of last access: 07.04.06]

Some remarks on sampling methods of plant communities (i.e. relevés) according to Braun-Blanquet, the syntaxonomical evaluation of data sets, and Gradient analysis and classification
(methods used in the research project - online - LöKAT).


Regarding the evaluation and description of ecosystems with a certain floristical composition of vegetation, the phytosociological method should be used, according to proven phytotaxonomical and syntaxonomical criteria.

This is neccessary because of the fact that the European Habitat types are described and classified according to the above mentioned taxonomical criteria.

Furthermore, the harmonisation of ecosystem (or elements) definitions and ecosystem type identification is a precondition for the "EUNIS habitat classification, which could be used by NFPs (or NFCs) as a common framework for recording and classifying European ecosystems." (Jane Hall, 2001, Harmonisation of ecosystem definitions)

Further important information
On EUNIS instruments and relationships  
EUNIS habitat classification (criteria & descriptions), Febr. 2002,  
    CEH, ProjectNo. C00398, 110 pp. 0,64MB
Annex I Habitats - Directive 92/43/EEC (Natural habitat types of  
  community interest whose conservation requires the  
  designation of special areas of conservation) of the 0,13MB
EU Habitats Directive.  
EUNIS habitats (Excel-File) - full list of habitats 0,12MB
Eunis habitat classification - full list of habitats  
(extended with linked classifications), Version 2.3 - 28/02/2002  
Information about the EUNIS Habitat classification  
(background, objectives, applications, definitions, methodology etc.)  
EUNIS habitats - EMERALD habitats relation, 43 pp. 0,12MB
EUNIS - CORINE relation, 21pp. 0,14MB
EUNIS - FFH relation, 71 pp. 0,21MB
EUNIS - Palearctic relation, 64 pp. 0,31MB
EUNIS habitat classification, changes between 1999 - 2002 0,07MB
Method of sampling 'plant communities' or vegetation units (Syllabus).  
  [Lessons developed by the Alaska Geobotany Center, Univ. of Alaska, Fairbanks;
    URL:; date of access: 06.04.06]
  The Relevé Method of sampling plant communities (L2- 22 pp.) 0,58MB
  Cover, frequency, density point sampling methods (L3 - 28 pp.) 1,29MB
  Example 1: Sampling sheet (LöKAT area - 4 pp.)  
  Example 2: Sampling sheet (LöKAT area - 2 pp.)  
  Biomass, plot count & point-center-quarter methods (L4 - 30 pp.) 1,99MB
  Plot-count and point-center-quarter methods (L5 - 27 pp.) 1,00MB
  Crash course in "Soils" (L6 - 43 pp.) 1,24MB
  Indirect ordination , Similarity indices, polar ordination (L7 - 30 pp.) 1,61MB
  Ordination: Principal components analysis (L8 - 32 pp.) 0,36MB
  Correspondance Analysis, DCA (L9 - 32 pp.) 0,20MB
    (Methods used for the Amanos Mtn. vegetation analysis)  

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

Last updated on 2020-11-08