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Habitat definitions

Discover how Scotland’s diverse habitats are defined and classified.

National classifications

Traditionally Scotland’s habitats have been defined based on the following national lists and classifications:

SNH has produced a series of guidance documents on Scotland’s Broad and Priority habitats. Each document includes:

  • a non-technical description of the habitat group
  • an outline of how the group was defined
  • where in Scotland you are most likely to find examples of that habitat.

For each Broad habitat type, you’ll also find a list of the Priority habitats that sit within it.

Find links to all of these Broad and Priority habitat documents below. You can also find them by searching ‘Broad habitat’ or ‘Priority habitat’ in our information library

Europe-wide classification

To improve the use and exchange of habitat data across the EU, the INSPIRE Directive now requires all Member States to use the European National System (EUNIS) and the habitat codes in Annex I of the Habitats Directive in habitat classification.

EUNIS is a hierarchical classification that, at its top level, groups habitats into broad categories with gradually more specific sub-categories. Find out more about the use of EUNIS in Scotland and see the correspondence tables for a summary of the relationship between EUNIS and the UK BAP, for example.

Habitat Map of Scotland

In our effort to bring together all habitat data under one roof, we are producing a comprehensive map of Scotland’s main habitats – a commitment we set out in the 2020 Challenge for Scotland's Biodiversity, as part of the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy.

This Habitat Map of Scotland uses EUNIS to classify habitat data. This mapping work is ongoing.

Broad habitats

Priority habitats