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Development of a framework for Mapping European Seabed Habitats

Funding Programme:



Completion Year:

Contact Person(s): (habitatmapping[at]jncc[dot]gov[dot]uk)

Implementation Period:
Specific Funding Programme:

INTERREG III – North West Europe Area – Strand B - Transnational cooperation


Overall Budget: € 8.106.708,00

EU Contribution: € 4.226.257,00

About the Project:

Led by the JNCC the “Development of a framework for Mapping European Seabed Habitats”, or MESH for short was an international seabed habitat mapping programme. The project was undertaken by a consortium of 12 project partners covering all five countries within the Interreg North-West Europe marine area.

The main outputs of the MESH Project can be summarised as follows:

Compilations of available seabed habitat mapping information across north-west Europe and harmonisation according to European habitat classification schemes (the European Environment Agency's EUNIS system and the EC Habitats Directive types) provided the first seabed habitat maps for north-west Europe.
Existing studies were of variable quality and, more importantly, did not cover the entire study area. Habitat models were developed to predict the distribution of habitats in unsampled areas from the more widely available geophysical and hydrographic data. The final maps were produced with a quality rating so that end-users can determine their adequacy for their decision-making, and future survey effort can be strategically directed to areas with relatively low quality maps or little existing information.
A set of internationally agreed Recommended Operating Guidelines (ROGS) for habitat mapping were developed following a review of protocols and standards, drawing upon the best available expertise across Europe and elsewhere, to help ensure that future mapping programmes yield quality assured data that can be readily exchanged and aggregated to further improve the initial maps. The protocols were tested through a range of field-testing scenarios involving trans-national co-operation to ensure they are robust and the results repeatable.
The deliverables (including maps and ROGS) from the project are available from download from the EMODnet website. The maps are displayed using an interactive Geographical Information System (GIS) that allows users to customise the map view by selecting layers of their choice and zooming to their location of interest. The website provides ready access to the information for a wide range of end-users at local, regional, national and international levels (e.g. spatial planners and managers; governments and other regulatory authorities, research institutions, educational establishments).
The project engaged with a wide spectrum of stakeholders from start to finish in order to help gain a better understanding of their requirements, and to encourage the supply of relevant data to the project. End-users are encouraged to use the mapping information in their spatial planning, management issues and for environmental protection.

Project pARTNERS

  • JNCC - Joint Nature Conservation Committee – (EN)
  • Univeristy of Gent (BE)
  • Infermer (FR)
  • Marine Institute (IE)
  • TNO – Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (NE)
  • CEFAS – Centre for Environment, Fisheries, and Aquaculture Science (UK)
  • AFBI – Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (UK)
  • Natural England (UK)    
  • Envison Mapping Ltd (UK)
  • NMGW - National Museums and Galleries of Wales (UK)
  • BGS – British Geological Survey