In the current context of worldwide habitat loss and degradation, habitat mapping is crucially important for developing effective management and restoration plans.
This study aimed to produce a census of available map resources at the European scale focusing on: a) key marine habitats; b) degraded habitats; c) human activities and pressures acting on degraded habitats, and d) the restoration potential of degraded habitats.
The authors state that biogeographical heterogeneity was observed and varied between the type and quality of information provided. The census showed that habitat degradation was assessed in only 28% of the map records and was mostly carried out in a qualitative manner. It is highlighted that less than half of the map records included assessments on the recovery/restoration potential of the degraded habitats, with passive restoration by removal of human activities being the most commonly recommended measure.
It is concluded that this work has identified several gaps and challenges both in the thematic and geographic coverage of the available map resources, as well as in the approaches implemented for the harmonized assessment of habitat degradation. The authors suggest that these should guide future mapping initiatives in order to more comprehensively support and advice the marine habitat restoration agenda for better meeting the objectives set in relevant policy documents and legislative acts in Europe.
Gerovasileiou et al. (2019) Habitat mapping in the European Seas – is it fit for purpose in the marine restoration agenda? Marine Policy 106:103521.