Working Group on Marine Habitat Mapping



WGMHMWGMHMTrueJames StrongHAPISGjamstr@noc.ac.uk104Working Group on Marine Habitat Mapping

ICES Working Group on Marine Habitat Mapping (WGMHM) coordinates the review of habitat classification and mapping activities in the ICES area and promotes standardization of approaches and techniques.

​​​​​​​​​​The experts in WGMHM have experience in habitat mapping and classification, and include geologists, benthic ecologists, conservation practitioners, GIS analysts and database experts. The working group meets annually to collate new information and standardize geographic information for seabed and habitat maps the in the ICES area.

The working group provides an important forum to discuss international and national seabed mapping programmes, along with their relevance to regional conventions and European directives and more specifically among them, the MSFD. The MSFD required better knowledge of the seabed, both from a biodiversity but also an integrity point of view. WGMHM examines techniques with a capacity to address these issues, whether for direct mapping or through modelling.

The compilation of national status reports remains an important tool to show progress in knowledge on our seabed. This extends to interpreted and modelled maps including habitats, biotopes, and substrate maps. Habitat suitability modelling is a key emerging technique as it allows addressing large areas of the seabed using field data and environmental parameters or their proxies, limiting the need for survey data. Mapping physical habitats is also a promising approach. One important task for the group is to share and develop best practices in this field.

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Topographic map of the Andøy Canyon off northern Norway with examples of characteristic fauna

© MAREANO, Institute of Marine Research, Norway

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