Mapping habitats on the OSPAR List of Threatened and/or Declining Species and Habitats
At its Biodiversity Committee (BDC) meeting in 2003, OSPAR agreed to proceed with a programme to collate existing data on the distribution of the fourteen habitats on this list, as part of a wider programme to develop measures for their protection and conservation. BDC 2004 agreed on working definitions for each habitat type for the purposes of this mapping programme, later updated in 2008. Case reports on each habitat type were published by OSPAR in 2004 (updated 2008).
Each OSPAR Contracting Party agreed to compile the relevant data for its own marine waters and submit these to the lead country (UK) for collation into composite maps on the distribution of each habitat type across the whole OSPAR area. The work has been coordinated by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC).
Data coverage: The data available to date provide an initial indication of the distribution of each OSPAR priority habitat type; further data will be added as it becomes available. The maps are not yet considered to be comprehensive for the OSPAR area as a whole and may not be comprehensive within any given Contracting Party’s waters. The following table provides a summary of the coverage of data for the distribution of listed habitats within the OSPAR area.
About the OSPAR Habitats Database
The database contains point and polygon information on the presence of OSPAR Threatened and/or Declining (T&D) Habitats. It is a collection of existing data that have been submitted by Contracting Parties. Its completeness is therefore related to the effort of its contributors. It does not contain:
- Modelled predictions of the presence or extent of habitats in areas of limited data,
- Information on habitat condition, or
- Many absence records (although the data schema allows for it).
Below are some examples of the questions that may be asked of the data:
- Where in any given area has habitat X been observed?
- What is the recorded extent of habitat X in any given area?
- When was this sample taken? When was this map made?
- Who took this sample? Who made the map? Who owns the data?
- What survey techniques were used?
- How else was the habitat classified for this sample/polygon? Who classified it as an OSPAR T&D Habitat?
- How certain was the determiner that this is an OSPAR T&D Habitat?
The data may also provide answers to other questions, such as those below, but the answers may not be reliable and should be treated with caution, since not all areas of the sea have been surveyed
- What is the actual extent of habitat X in any given area?
- How much of habitat X is contained within Marine Protected Areas?
- How much of habitat X overlaps with the footprint of human activities?
There are some questions that cannot be asked of the data because the required information is not recorded in the database, for example:
- What is the state of habitat X in any given location? Has it been impacted by human activities?
- What species were recorded in the same sample as this habitat observation?
- Was this record collected as part of a monitoring survey or a one-off survey?
- Which areas do not contain OSPAR T&D Habitats?
Disclaimer: The Commission accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to the contents of the maps. Efforts have been made to ensure that the information given is as accurate as possible, but it is not necessarily comprehensive, complete, accurate or up-to-date. This disclaimer is not intended to limit the liability of the Commission contrary to any obligations imposed by applicable national law nor to exclude liability for matters which may not be excluded under that law.
Additional data: any additional data to further improve the maps would be most welcome and should be submitted via the relevant Contracting Party. Guidelines for supplying data to the OSPAR Habitats Database which include the Data Exchange Format are available. Please contact the UK Joint Nature Conservation Committee (OSPARmapping@jncc.gov.uk) if you wish to submit further data or have other comments.