The purpose is to provide cartography for the habitats in order to improve land management, knowledge and conservation of natural environment.
The main motivations that led to the map of habitats were i) improve land management, ii) generate reports for monitoring habitats and iii) assess their evolution in time. To achieve these goals it was essential to have a map showing the distribution of habitats in the territory in order to be able to locate and quantify them.
Habitats projects in Catalonia (information available online):
- List of Catalan Habitats. Obtained from an adaptation of the CORINE Biotopes Manual. A correspondence with the EUNIS classification has settled down.
- Manual of Catalan Habitats. The need to clearly establish the content and specify the boundaries for each habitat led to the creation of a manual.
- Legend and the Interpretation Manual for the cartography
- Cartography of Catalan Habitats (1:50,000)
- Cartography of habitats in protected areas (1:10,000)
The main applications are:
1. Management (public administrations, private companies...):
- Delimitation of protected areas
- Monitoring the state of conservation of natural heritage
- Planning and management of activities in the natural environment
- Provide environmental information to citizens
2. Education and divulgation:
- Teaching at the university and the schools
- Approaching the natural environment to citizens and create new opportunities for sustainable socio-economic activities
- Knowledge of the biodiversity
- Testing new methodologies
- Basic information for the study of habitats dynamics ove
- Cartography of habitats in protected areas (1: 10,000): about 4 €/ha. More than 12 people; between 3,000 and 8,000 ha/year.
- Cartography of habitats (1: 50,000): about 400,000 € in 5 years. About 35 people involved.
- Manual of Catalan Habitats (8 volumes): about 34,000 € and 15 people involved
Evidence of success
Both the list and the cartography of habitats have become standard tools used in most of the management, study and conservation of the natural environment. They are tools widely used in local administrations, regional communes, natural protected areas, research centers, private consultants, higher education centers, and so on. As an example, the first paper edition of the Habitats Manual, of which 1,000 copies were made, was sold out in a few years and the second edition is currently underway.
One of the most important difficulties to develop the project is to have highly qualified technicians with broad knowledge of habitats, vegetation and species. Universities have not prioritized naturalistic knowledge, which is essential for the development of management and conservation policies.
Potential for learning or transfer
We believe that a detailed cartography of the habitats is an essential tool for the correct management of the natural environment, so we strongly recommend it to any territory that does not yet have it. According to our experience, on a regional scale it is probably enough with a scale of 1: 50,000 or 1: 25.000, but for smaller areas it is necessary to work with more detailed scales (at least 1: 10,000). Likewise, it is highly recommended to have precise protocols on the mapping methodology, and on the interpretation manuals of the habitats that make it easier to recognize it on the work field.
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