This page contains information on habitats and European classifications and typologies. The term “habitat” has several meanings. In ecology it means either the area and resources used by a particular species (the habitat of a species) or an assemblage of animals and plants together with their abiotic environment. A habitat or a group of related habitats can be considered an ecosystem.

Overview of habitat classifications/typologies

Over time there have been many approaches to systematically describe habitats. Many countries have developed their own national habitat classifications or flat typologies (lists of habitats with no hierarchy) but some classifications and typologies cover the entire Europe. The most used classifications / typologies at European level are the following:

EUNIS habitat classification

The EUNIS habitat classification is the most comprehensive pan-European system for habitat identification. The classification is hierarchical and covers all types of habitats from natural to artificial, from terrestrial to freshwater and marine. The definition of habitats used for the EUNIS habitat classification is: “a place where plants or animals normally live, characterized primarily by its physical features (topography, plant or animal physiognomy, soil characteristics, climate, water quality, etc.) and secondarily by the species of plants and animals that live there”. The habitat types are identified by specific codes, names and descriptions. There are crosslinks to other typologies.

Habitats Directive Annex I typology

The Habitats Directive Annex I typology is a list of selected habitat types that are in danger of disappearance in their natural range, or have a small natural range or present outstanding examples of typical characteristics. These habitat types are protected under the EU Habitats Directive (Directive 92/43/EC). Sites hosting these habitats can be included in the Natura 2000 network.

Bern Convention Resolution 4

The Bern Convention Resolution 4 typology is a list of selected European endangered natural habitats requiring specific conservation measures. They are based on EUNIS classification. These habitat types are protected under the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (1979), in short the Bern Convention. Sites hosting these habitats can be included in the Emerald network.

European Red List of Habitats

The European Red List of Habitats is a comprehensive typology of all natural and semi-natural terrestrial, freshwater and marine habitats including reviews of their current threat status. It covers the EU27 plus United Kingdom, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and the Balkan countries and their adjacent areas.

EUNIS habitat classification1

Habitats Directive Annex I habitats

Bern Convention Resolution 4 habitats

European Red List of habitats

Marine benthic habitats

Coastal and halophytic habitats

Marine habitats

Marine habitats

Pelagic water column

Coastal sand dunes and inland dunes

Coastal habitats

Coastal habitats

Ice-associated marine habitats

Freshwater habitats

Inland surface waters

Freshwater habitats

Coastal habitats

Temperate heaths and scrub

Mires, bogs and fens

Mires and bogs

Grasslands and lands dominated by forbs, mosses or lichens

Sclerophyllous scrub (Matorral)

Grasslands and lands dominated by forbs, mosses or lichens


Heathland, scrub and tundra

Natural and semi-natural grassland formations

Heathland, scrub and tundra

Heathland and scrub

Forest and other wooded land

Raised bogs and mires and fens

Woodland, forest and other wooded land


Inland habitats with no or little soil and mostly with sparse vegetation

Rocky habitats and caves

Inland unvegetated or sparsely vegetated habitats

Sparsely vegetated habitats

Vegetated man-made habitats


Habitat complexes




    1 Note: 3 groups are in pending review: Inland waters, Constructed, industrial and other artificial habitats, Habitat complexes

Distribution of Habitats Directive Annex I habitat types

This Expert dashboard provides information about distribution (maps) and areas (distribution and surface) of habitat types from Annex I of the Habitats Directive. Under Article 17 of the Habitats Directive, Member States report every six years on the status and trends of habitats and species. This includes distribution maps – presence/absence – on a 10 km x 10 km grid and surface areas for each of the 233 Annex I habitat types; the dashboards include information reported in 2019, corresponding to the 2013-2018 period.