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Maps of seafloor habitats are important predictors of biodiversity and a key input into marine spatial planning. GRID-Arendal, Geoscience Australia and Conservation International recently collaborated to produce a map of the global distribution of seafloor geomorphic features. The global seafloor geomorphic features map represents an important contribution towards the understanding of the distribution of blue habitats.

Certain geomorphic feature are known to be good surrogates for biodiversity. For example, seamounts support a different suite of species to abyssal plains. A detailed description and analysis of the global geomorphic features map can be found in in the scientific paper published in Marine Geology. The map and the underlying spatial data can be accessed from the Blue Habitats website (http://www.bluehabitats.org).

This marine conservation planning data set is being used in a wide range of marine planning and research projects spanning the globe. To date the printable version of the map has been downloaded thousands of times from the bluehabitats.org website, and the data has been used by over 350 institutions and projects to support education, research and marine spatial planning. The data is being used to set spatial priorities for the marine environment in South East Asia, modelling migratory species in the Pacific and marine spatial planning in the Seychelles, among other things.

GRID-Arendal also supported marine habitat mapping in Estonia in support of their assessment of Natura 2000 habitat areas under the EU Habitats Directive. In collaboration with the Estonian Marine Institute, a map of seafloor habitats for the entire Estonian marine jurisdiction was created. This map was used to help identify Natura 2000 areas and will support future marine planning in Estonia.

Status: In progress

Type: Marine

Programme: Marine Environment

Tags: coastal ecosystems conservation coral reefs oceans biodiversity

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