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Sound and independent information
on the environment

4. use of the database

4. Use of the Database

4.1. Historical Use

The CORINE Biotopes report, published in 1991, contained examples of a number of uses made of the Biotopes database during its development phase and at a time when the CORINE Programme was fully supported by an operational central team working within DG XI in Brussels. Data were either used in-house by the central team on behalf of the users, or supplied direct to users. ITE also acted as data suppliers during this period. Further examples of the uses of Biotopes data were published by DG XI (1991) as "Examples of the use of the results of the CORINE Programme 1985-1990".

Types of examples of use quoted were:

  • investigation of relationships between agriculture and conservation of natural habitats (Portugal)

  • impact assessment in relationship with European regional funds - especially enquiries made on behalf of the European Investment Bank

  • development of environmental models by external researchers

A further important use was in the planning of the Habitats Directive, and in supply of data relevant to assessment of the effectiveness of the implementation of the Birds Directive (79/409/EEC). The relationship between the Biotopes database and the Habitats Directive is outlined below.

4.2. Recent Use

After 1991, central support and promotion of the Biotopes sites database and CORINE products decreased when there were few staff in DG XI involved in maintenance of the CORINE GIS, and the EEA Task Force had other urgent priorities. As a result, the Biotopes sites database was used mainly from ITE. A further drawback was the continued incompleteness of the database in a number of Member States, which meant that a number of potential users of a European Union or biogeographic regional database had to be declined. Table 15 lists a number of users who approached ITE directly, with details of the data use and data supplied.

Table 15 CORINE Biotopes sites database: examples of use 1992-1995

Date User Use Data supplied
--/07/95 Joint Nature Conservation Committee, UK European distribution of Annex II, IV and V species occurring in UK Occurrence of species in each country
24/04/95 Rio Tinto Finance and Exploration plc, Ireland Indication of environmental sensitivity of exploration sites Full details of two sites in Alentejo, Portugal
01/12/94 Somerset Environmental Records Centre, UK Atlantic Arc Wetland Information and Evaluation Systems Complete database for 1317 sites in Atlantic Arc regions
07/10/94 Environmental Auditors Ltd, UK Impact assessment, Gulf of Cadiz, Spain Full details for 4 sites in Gulf of Cadiz, Spain
06/10/94 IRSNB, Belgium Request from DG XI D2 (R. Geiser) Full details of sites in the Peenetal area, Germany
12/09/94 Nicholas Pearson Associates, UK Impact assessment, Denmark Full details of one site: Vestamager, Denmark
11/04/94 International Waterfowl Research Bureau, UK MedWet subproject on Inventories and Monitoring Lists of habitat types and species occurring in Mediterranean regions of 5 Member States
02/09/94 Environmental Auditors Ltd, UK Impact assessment, Saronikos Gulf, Greece Full details of 11 sites in the Saronikos Gulf, Greece
24/03/94 Nicholas Pearson Associates, UK Impact assessment, Mallorca, Spain Site details for one site in Mallorca; map of all Mallorca sites
03/02/94 DG XI - D2 Implementation of the Habitats Directive Lists of sites for which Annex I habitats and Annex II species have been reported (sorted by habitat and by species, and summarised by site)
24/01/94 Kent County Council, UK Location, habitat and international designations of all EU saltmarshes Not supplied as data extraction costs beyond customer's budget
17/08/93 University College of North Wales, UK Sites in North Wales for lectures on conservation practices Full site details for appropriate sites
02/09/92 Department of the Environment, UK North Sea Quality Status Report 1993 Lists and plots of sites as examples of specified coastal habitats

4.3. CORINE Biotopes and the Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC)

There has been some confusion as to the extent to which the CORINE Biotopes sites database has been used in the development and implementation of the Habitats Directive. The record is set out briefly here:

  • illustrative material was prepared for selected candidate Annex I habitat types and Annex II species for working groups in 1989-1990 from the current database (with caveats regarding completeness);

  • the habitat classification (working draft version) was used as the basis for Annex I, agreed by Member States governments in December 1991;

  • 11677 habitat records and 4657 species records from 6308 sites in 11 Member States relating to Annex I habitats and Annex II species were listed for a Habitats Committee meeting in February 1994 to illustrate the Biotopes sites database as a source of information for Natura 2000;

  • some features of the Biotopes data record were adopted for the Natura 2000 standard data form (May 1994), and the Biotopes dBASE data structure and input software were adapted as a prototype Natura 2000 structure and software in March - July 1994;

  • the EEA/DG XI data model developed by Cray Systems Ltd. under contract to the European Environment Agency is based on the prototype, and the input module of this software can take data directly under controlled supervision from the Biotopes database;

  • the Biotopes database currently contains 15341 Annex I habitat records, 2739 Annex II mammals, 1295 amphibians & reptiles, 705 fish, 406 invertebrates, and 1251 plants. It also contains 32398 Birds Directive Annex I records, compared with 21213 Annex I bird records in the DG XI database of Special Protection Areas designated by 12 Member States under Directive 79/409/EEC.

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