Natura 2000 Habitat Map

The Biological Valuation Map (BVM) is an important instrument in locating the Natura 2000 habitats. Sometimes a BVM ecotope can be directly translated into a Natura 2000 habitat (e.g. dry heath). But there is not always a one-to-one relationship. Some habitat types cannot even be translated or located with the BVM. The overall result of this exercise is an indicative habitat map for Flanders.

Since 2003 we started mapping Natura 2000 habitats in the field for the Special Areas of Conservation. In the consecutive years the conservation status of the habitats was also noted based on fast interpretation of vegetation structure and presence and abundance of typical species.

Conservation status of Natura 2000 habitats

Each EU member state has to realise a program to monitor and report the conservation status of its Natura 2000 habitats. The EU sets out the reporting format, the evaluation matrices and definitions of the key terms, but individual countries or regions need to elaborate their own approach to data gathering and monitoring.

The EU has defined the criteria to evaluate the conservation status of each habitat:

  • Evolution of the range of the habitat
  • Evolution of the area of the habitat
  • Specific structures and functions: percentage of the area in favourable versus unfavourable condition and its evolution
  • Future prospects of these criteria

We are currently in the process of designing a solid methodology to quantify these criteria.

Range and area

The actual range and area of the Natura 2000 habitats can be derived directly from our Natura 2000 habitat map, which is derived from the Biological Valuation Map.
Approaching the evolution of range and area using the Biological Valuation Map has proven to be problematic. Comparison between the 2 versions is difficult because of a different methodology and the low level of detail of version 1. Therefore we need to use species (fauna and flora) distribution databases to derive the evolution.

Specific structures and functions

For each habitat type detailed assessment-tables have been designed. On the one hand they contain the requirements of abiotic variables (soil, acidity, salinity, inundation, …) for a favourable conservation status. On the other hand they list possible criteria to assess the conservation status of the habitat in the field (minimum area, habitat structure vegetation composition,...).

Abiotic characteristics for a favourable condition

IN.O.2005.03: Heutz G. & Paelinckx D.(red.). 2005. Natura 2000 habitats: doelen en staat van instandhouding. Versie 1.0 (ontwerp). Onderzoeksverslag. (in Dutch)