About the European Nature Information System, EUNIS

The European nature information system, EUNIS, brings together European data from several databases and organisations into three interlinked modules on sites, species and habitat types.

The EUNIS information system is a contribution to the knowledge base for implementing the Biodiversity Strategy for 2030.

The EUNIS information system provides access to the publicly available data in the EUNIS database. The information includes:

  • Data on species, habitat types and designated sites compiled in the framework of Natura 2000 (EU Habitats and Birds Directives);
  • The EUNIS habitat classification;
  • The European Red List of habitats;
  • Data from material compiled by the European Topic Centre of Biological Diversity;
  • Information on species, habitat types and designated sites mentioned in relevant international conventions and in the IUCN Red Lists;
  • Specific data collected in the framework of the EEA's reporting activities, which also constitute a core set of data to be updated periodically, e.g. Eionet priority dataflow Nationally designated areas (CDDA).

What are the purposes of the EUNIS information system?

EUNIS is a reference information system for anyone working in ecology and conservation or those with an interest in the natural world. It is also used for

  • assistance to the Natura 2000 process (EU Birds and Habitats Directives) and coordinated with the related EMERALD Network of the Bern Convention;
  • the development of indicators (EEA Core Set);
  • environmental reporting connected to EEA reporting activities.

About the EUNIS database

The data that is integrated and visualised through the EUNIS information system are collected and maintained by the European Topic Centre on Biological Diversity, the European Environment Agency and the European Environmental Information Observation Network to be used for environmental reporting and for assistance to the Natura 2000 process (EU Birds and Habitats Directives) and coordinated to the related EMERALD Network of the Bern Convention.

The datasets consists of information on Species, Habitat types and Sites.


The species module contains information about more than 278 000 taxa occurring in Europe. However, the amount of information collected on each species varies in accordance with the potential use of the data:

  • Catalogue of Life is the taxonomic reference for the species in EUNIS;
  • Species distribution is available for species reported under the EU Birds and Habitats Directives.
  • Data concerning the conservation and threat status is compiled from the reporting of EU Member States under the EU Habitats Directive and from the IUCN Red Lists. Population trend information is reported by EU Member States under the EU Birds Directive.

Habitat types

The habitat types module consist of the EUNIS habitat classification, the habitat types listed in Annex I of the EU Habitats Directive, the habitat types in Resolution 4 of the Bern Convention and of the European Red List of habitats.

The EUNIS habitat classification is a comprehensive pan-European system to facilitate the harmonised description and collection of data across Europe through the use of criteria for habitat identification; it covers all types of habitats from natural to artificial, from terrestrial to freshwater and marine.

Habitat type is defined for the purposes of the EUNIS habitat classification as follows: 'Plant and animal communities as the characterising elements of the biotic environment, together with abiotic factors operating together at a particular scale.' All factors included in the definition are addressed in the descriptive framework of the habitat classification. The scope of the EUNIS classification is limited to level 3 in its hierarchy (level 4 for Marine habitat types). At level 4 (5 for the Marine types) and below, the component units are drawn from other classification systems and combine these in the common framework.

A criteria-based key has been developed for all units to level 3 and in addition for salt marshes at level 4. The key takes the form of a sequential series of questions with additional detailed explanatory notes. Depending on the answer chosen, the user is directed to the next question in the series or to a habitat type identified by the parameters. The user may follow the key question by question, or view the criteria for each habitat level in a series of static diagrams.

The parameters used to form the framework of the classification may also be used in the search options in the web site.


The sites module of EUNIS uses data from the following databases:

EUNIS database in RDF/XML

In order to facilitate combination of EUNIS data with other datasets, the EUNIS database has been made available as RDF/XML. To cater to stakeholders who are interested in only a subset of the data, the dataset has been partitioned into several files:

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