German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)


Monitoring under the Habitats Directive

Article 11 of the Habitats Directive requires EU member states to monitor / observe the conservation status of natural habitats (Annex I) and species of European interest (Annex II, IV and V).

  • In a multi-year consultation process, the German federal government and the German Länder have agreed on a uniform approach for monitoring under the Habitats Directive and have compiled a national monitoring plan. The national monitoring concept and additional information can be downloaded (see links below).

Background information

EU member states perform monitoring under the Habitats Directive both within and outside of the Natura 2000 protected areas network to compile data providing information on the conservation status of listed habitats and species at the level of biogeographic regions. These data form an important part of the information to be collated for the 2013 National Report to the EU.

The definition of conservation status in Article 1 of the Directive – in combination with other EU documents (see below) – was used to derive a set of parameters that determine the scope of monitoring activities. The results contribute to the national reports.


Criteria for conservation status
Natural habitatsSpecies of common interest
Range (overall distribution)Range
Area (actually) covered Population (size of stock)
Structure and functions, including characteristic habitat structures and characteristic species inventoryHabitat for the species
Outlook (including impairments, threats and long-term survival prospects)Outlook (including impairments, threats and long-term survival prospects)
  • Adaptation of existing approaches (primarily to arrive at a uniform cross-national survey method)
  • Cross-national coordination of monitored parameters, field survey methods, survey intervals, sample sizes and sample distribution
  • Development and coordination of methods for identifying areas and habitat sizes
  • Utilization of synergies with other ongoing survey programmes (e.g. monitoring under the EU Water Framework Directive, the National Forest Inventory, and habitat mapping programmes)
  • Design of databases for data aggregation and analysis

A comprehensive, nationally uniform monitoring system that meets EU requirements for Habitats Directive monitoring has been developed for the current reporting period (2007-2012) in a R&D project (Conceptual Implementation of EU Requirements for Habitats Directive Monitoring and Reporting Obligations in Germany). In March 2008, the sixteen German Länder approved the following key points of the concept at the 97th session of the German Länder Working Group on Nature Conservation, Landscape Management and Recreation (LANA):

Field methods: cross-national survey methods and census parameters (e.g. occurrence, spawn clumps and callers in the case of amphibians) are determined for all species and habitat types listed in the Annexes of the Habitats Directive. Survey and assessment are based on specific assessment schemes that were modified and operationalized during the R&D project.

Survey intervals: intervals are defined specifically for each species and habitat type, either annually, or every two to three years, or once every six years. For species and habitat types exhibiting large fluctuations (e.g. of population size such as many insects), the interval is shorter than for those with less dynamic fluctuations.

Scope: to limit the effort involved, the survey uses random sampling for common and widespread species and habitat types, while for rare species and habitat types all known localities are sampled (complete survey). Based on statistical considerations, 63 occurrences are used as a threshold value to distinguish between ‘rare’ and ‘frequent’ objects. Species and habitat types with more than 63 known occurrences are randomly sampled at 63 localities. The monitoring survey is conducted both within and outside the Nature 2000 protected area network.

Paired design: The monitoring activities are based on a paired sampling appraoch, meaning the same occurrences are repeatedly sampled. This approach reduces selection effort and increases data accuracy.

Representative allocation of monitoring sites: samples of widespread species and habitat types are allocated to each of the German Länder according to the portion of range or number of known occurrences falling into the territory of the respective Land.

In accordance with a LANA resolution, Annex V species are not included in the national monitoring under the Habitats Directive, but are assessed on the basis of an expert evaluation as in the last National Report.

Existing monitoring programmes can be used for specific species groups and habitat types (for example the monitoring system under the EU Water Framework Directive for Habitats Directive fish species, and German Länder monitoring systems for otter and lynx); in some cases, integration with existing systems is in preparation (for example with the Third National Forest Inventory for selected common forest habitat types).

Data storage and analysis for national activities is performed by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation.

The Habitats Directive monitoring data on the conservation status of Habitats Directive species and habitat types also serve as the basis for various policy indicators, for example under the National Strategy on Biological Diversity.

Ongoing activities in consultation with the Nature Conservation Agencies of the German Länder:

  • Compilation of missing assessment schemes for species and habitat types of the Habitats Directive (for example due to the eastern European expansion of the EU).
  • Development of databases for the entry and analysis of monitoring data.
  • Conceptual work on the integration of monitoring data into the National Report

Useful Links

International activities

EUMON research project

Monitoring and the Nature Directives

Habitats Directive monitoring in other member states

United Kingdom

Belgien (Flandern)

Last Change: 23/11/2020