The European Nature Information System (EUNIS)
EUNIS data are collected and maintained by the European Topic Centre on Biological Diversity for the European Environment Agency and the European Environmental Information Observation Network to be used for environmental reporting and for assistance to the NATURA2000 process (EU Birds and Habitats Directives) and coordinated to the related EMERALD Network of the Bern Convention. EUNIS consists of information on Species, Habitat types and Sites. Data on Species, Habitats and Sites compiled in the framework of the NATURA2000 (EU Habitats and Birds Directives), but also data collected by ETC/BD from literature and other sources as reference data. Information on Species, Habitats and Sites taken into account in relevant international conventions. Specific data collected in the framework of the EEA reporting activities, which also constitute a core set of data to be up-dated periodically. The species part of EUNIS contains information about more than 278 000 taxa occuring in Europe. However, the amount of information collected on each species varies in accordance with the potential use of the data: Reference data is available online for almost all EUNIS species except for the habitat preference parameter for which it is available on request. Spatial-temporal information (including species population size and trends) is available for birds and butterflies. Other groups might only have geographic distribution. In some cases, the EUNIS Database stores the current available information which might consist only of basic taxonomy. Data concerning the conservation status has been collected from all national Red Books made available to the ETC/BD and from other relevant literature. International conservation statuses as well as major international legal status is displayed. The EUNIS Habitat types classification is a comprehensive pan-European system 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. 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 level 3 in its hierarchy (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 parameters used to form the framework of the classification may also be used in the search options in the web site. The database includes EUNIS Habitats and Annex I Habitats of the EU Habitats Directive.
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