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Habitat area

  • Biodiversity

  • Structure


The total area of habitat is simple to measure and is an important driver of overall biodiversity (Fahrig et al. 2021, Deane et al. 2020). Maintenance of total habitat area is a key conservation target and habitat loss is a key driver of biodiversity declines (Fahrig et al. 2021, Hanski 2011). Habitat area can be tracked alongside other metrics such as Landscape diversity, Patch size distribution, Connectivity and fragmentation, to reflect the need for a range of habitats in a connected network. For species with specific habitat requirements, monitoring habitat availability can be a good proxy for species monitoring and has the advantage of providing information relevant to multiple species simultaneously (Bunce et al. 2013).

Methodology summary

Data collected during assessment of Landscape diversity can be used to derive information on the total area of semi-natural habitat and specific habitat types within a landscape. Projects will identify key relevant habitat types. Other projects may choose to focus on habitats of local importance or UK Priority Habitats:

Further patch level metrics can be calculated using FRAGSTATS, more information on metric selection and interpretation here and see Patch size distribution.

Metric threshold or direction of change

Projects will aim to increase the total area of semi-natural habitat and increase the area of key relevant habitats.

Information on the core habitat size needed to sustain breeding populations of key species can be used to set targets.

Technological innovations

  • In Switzerland, high resolution (1m) aerial imagery (land cover, Landsat, LiDAR) was used to classify habitats with high accuracy, although rarer and finer-scale habitats were less accurate, highlighting the need for ground-truthing (Price et al. 2023).
  • Machine-learning approaches were used to classify Natura 2000 Habitat Types in Germany (Sittaro et al. 2022).
  • Other examples of classifying habitat types using Earth Observation data in Lausch et al. 2016.

  • Agricultural
  • Forest
  • Grassland
  • Heathland
  • Other
  • Peatland
  • Saltmarsh
  • Wetland


  • Landscape


  • Low


  • Tier 1

Technical expertise

  • Medium

Standardised methodology

  • Partial