Habitat mapping identifies and analyses the way land is divided. 'Land cover' and 'land use' are two common terms used to discuss the findings.
Land cover refers to what is actually covering the land. This includes vegetation and man-made features, but not the bare rocks and soil that make up the land itself.
Land cover allows scientists to see the impacts of such pressures as climate change and desertification. This approach does still have its limitations, however. Labelling a piece of land as ‘forest’ does not reveal important factors such as how many species live in it, how tall the trees are, or how old it is.
Land use refers to the specific use made of the land. Rather than just saying that there is a forest, for example, land use would say whether that forest is being grown for timber or protected as a nature reserve.
Understanding land use is an integral part of making sustainable management policies. It provides information on housing, railways and highways, agriculture and recreation.
CEH work on habitat mapping