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INTERPRETATION

MANUAL

OF

EUROPEAN UNION

HABITATS

EUR 25
April 2003







EUROPEAN COMMISSION

DG Environment

Nature and biodiversity

 The Interpretation Manual of European Union Habitats - EUR25 is a scientific reference document. It is based on the version for EUR15, which was adopted by the Habitats Committee on 4. October 1999 and consolidated with the new and amended habitat types for the 10 accession countries as adopted by the Habitats Committee on 14 March 2002.




TABLE OF CONTENTS

WHY THIS MANUAL? 3

Historical review 3

The manual 4

The EUR15 version 5

The EUR25 version 5

Explanatory Notes 6

COASTAL AND HALOPHYTIC HABITATS 7

Open sea and tidal areas 7

Sea cliffs and shingle or stony beaches 11

Atlantic and continental salt marshes and salt meadows 14

Mediterranean and thermo-Atlantic saltmarshes and salt meadows 16

Salt and gypsum inland steppes 18

Boreal Baltic archipelago, coastal and landupheaval areas 19

COASTAL SAND DUNES AND INLAND DUNES 22

Sea dunes of the Atlantic, North Sea and Baltic coasts 22

Sea dunes of the Mediterranean coast 28

Inland dunes, old and decalcified 30

FRESHWATER HABITATS 31

Standing water 31

Running water 37

TEMPERATE HEATH AND SCRUB 41

SCLEROPHYLLOUS SCRUB (MATORRAL) 49

Sub-Mediterranean and temperate scrub 49

Mediterranean arborescent matorral 51

Thermo-Mediterranean and pre-steppe brush 52

Phrygana 54

NATURAL AND SEMI-NATURAL GRASSLAND FORMATIONS 55

Natural grasslands 55

Semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland facies 60

Sclerophillous grazed forests (dehesas) 65

Semi-natural tall-herb humid meadows 67

Mesophile grasslands 70

RAISED BOGS AND MIRES AND FENS 72

Sphagnum acid bogs 72

Calcareous fens 76

Boreal mires 78

ROCKY HABITATS AND CAVES 79

Scree 79

Rocky slopes with chasmophytic vegetation 83

Other rocky habitats 87

FORESTS 89

Forests of Boreal Europe 89

Forests of temperate Europe 95

Mediterranean deciduous forests 109

Mediterranean sclerophyllous forests 115

Temperate mountainous coniferous forests 119

Mediterranean and Macaronesian mountainous coniferous forests 120



WHY THIS MANUAL?



Historical review


The "Habitats" Directive1 is a Community legislative instrument in the field of nature conservation that establishes a common framework for the conservation of wild animal and plant species and natural habitats of Community importance; it provides for the creation of a network of special areas of conservation, called Natura 2000, to "maintain and restore, at favourable conservation status, natural habitats and species of wild fauna and flora of Community interest".


Animal and plant species names are clearly presented in the Directive and, despite minor misspellings or use of synonyms, no major additional work needs to be done to allow a correct interpretation of Annex II. In contrast, the development of a common agreed definition appeared to be essential for the different habitat types of Annex I.
Annex I lists today 218 European natural habitat types, including 71 priority (i.e. habitat types in danger of disappearance and whose natural range mainly falls within the territory of the European Union). Annex I is based on the hierarchical classification of European habitats developed by the CORINE Biotopes project 2 since that was the only existing classification at European level. A draft list of habitat types for Annex I was therefore drawn up on the basis of this classification by Professor A. Noirfalise and submitted to the national experts preparing the Directive as a working document in August 1989. Numerous discussions with the national experts then took place between 1989 and 1991, culminating in the version of Annex I published in the Official Journal in May 1992.
In December 1991, while the Directive was being adopted, a thorough revision of the CORINE classification was published 3. This revision introduced numerous changes within codes and habitat types, in particular involving the division of the latter into sub types. Definitions had been prepared for the various categories. Consequently, the Annex I codes no longer corresponded fully to the codes and descriptive content of the various categories of CORINE, resulting in considerable ambiguities in the interpretation of Annex I on the basis of the CORINE classification. The Task Force/European Environment Agency thus produced a paper establishing the correspondence between the habitat codes of Annex I and those of the 1991 version of the CORINE classification 4. This paper also included the description proposed in the 1991 CORINE version for the various habitat types of Annex I.
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