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The mapping of habitats: an indispensable tool to the planning and management of protected areas in Catalonia

Pau Sainz de la Maza and Pilar Casanovas

(Submission #280)


A good cartographic information about the elements of the natural heritage is essential to know the natural value and the nature conservation status of a any given place. It is also essential to find solutions to the problems raised by global change (land use change, climate change, pollution, alien species, etc.).

Habitats are one of the key concepts in landscape ecology. They provide information about the flora and vegetation, climate, topography and are very useful for wildlife studies.

Since the mid-1990s, the department responsible for the environment of the Generalitat of Catalonia has promoted the development of different habitat cartographies in Catalonia with the co-operation of universities and research centers.

Between 1998 and 2003 two main cartographies were produced: the Cartography of Catalan habitats and the Cartography of the habitats of Community Interest, mapped at scale 1: 50.000. They were drawn from the EU adaptation of the CORINE habitats list. This cartography, of which a 2nd version was carried out between 2008 and 2012 has been widely used by the environmental authorities (for instance, for the Natura 2000 delimitation – covering the 32% of Catalonia), by the local planning (for the preparation of zoning plans) or by the scientific community regarding landscape and ecology research, and even by environmental sector companies (such as environmental consultants for environmental impact studies etc.).

In a more detailed scale (1: 10,000) since 2007, the Generalitat of Catalonia and the Barcelona Provincial Council have promoted the development of habitats cartography in several Natural Parks of Catalonia all under the same methodology and legend, also derived from the adaptation of the CORINE EU habitats list.

Even more recently, in 2012, the Department of Territory and Sustainability, drew the Mapping of Coastal Habitats, a first approach to the definition and understanding of marine ecosystems in our country.

All these maps are available for the whole society through the network, and constitute an essential tool for protected areas planning and management in Catalonia, and in general for its the natural heritage too.


Topic Area:  [1.2] Nature and biodiversity
Abstract Type:  Oral Presentation

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