Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

Seabed Habitat Distribution and Extent

General Information

The programme topic covers the monitoring relevant for assessing the state of habitats and biotopes and pressures acting on them. At present there is no coordinated monitoring of habitat distribution and extent in the HELCOM area. 

Habitats and biotopes are defined through the HELCOM HUB classification, using information on the abiotic characteristics of the seabed as well as the associated biotic communities. Benthic biotope monitoring therefore requires sampling that produces information on both the physical characteristics and the biological parameters. Benthic biotope monitoring can be carried out for this specific purpose, done periodically in mapping projects, however it is also possible to use several layers of spatial information collected through separate monitoring schemes for the physical and biological parameters to gain infomration on the biotopes and habitats. Monitoring benthic biotopes requires data-aggregation to a higher spatial scale compared to the scale of sampling. 

The HELCOM core indicators ‘Red-listed benthic biotopes‘ and the pre-core indicators ‘Cumulative impact on benthic habitats’ and ‘Distribution pattern and extent of benthic biotopes’  are related to the programme topic.

Sub-programme: Habitat-forming species and substrates

The sub-programme describes monitoring of species and structures that define biotopes and habitats.

The monitoring of habitat-forming species and substrates focuses on covering wide sea areas with the purpose of providing data on extent and distribution. Very little areal monitoring data on the distribution of habitat-forming species is available at the moment, however station and transect-based monitoring of the specific species is done in all the Baltic Sea countries.

Sub-programme: Seabed habitat physical characteristics

NOTE: This sub-programme is still under development.

The sub-programme describes monitoring of the physical characteristics of the seabed biotopes and habitats.

Responsible HELCOM Subsidiary Bodies

State and Conservation

Contact information: HELCOM Secretariat