Environmental stratifications as the basis for national, European and global ecological monitoring

M.J. Metzger, D.J. Brus, R.G.H. Bunce, P.D. Carey, J. Goncalves, J. Honrado, R.H.G. Jongman, A. Trabucco, R. Zomer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


There is growing urgency for integration and coordination of global environmental and ecological data and indicators required to respond to the ‘grand challenges’ the planet is facing, including climate change and biodiversity decline. A consistent stratification of land into relatively homogenous strata provides a valuable spatial framework for comparison and analysis of ecological and environmental data across large heterogeneous areas. We discuss how statistical stratification can be used to design national, European and global biodiversity observation networks. The value of strategic ecological survey based on stratified samples is first illustrated using the United Kingdom (UK) Countryside Survey, a national monitoring programme that has measured ecological change in the UK countryside for the last 35 years. We then present a design for a European-wide sampling design for monitoring common habitats, and discuss ways of extending these approaches globally, supported by the recently developed Global Environmental Stratification. The latter provides a robust spatial analytical framework for the identification of gaps in current monitoring efforts, and systematic design of new complementary monitoring and research. Examples from Portugal and the transboundary Kailash Sacred Landscape in the Himalayas illustrate the potential use of this stratification, which has been identified as a focal geospatial dataset within the Group on Earth Observation Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-35
JournalEcological Indicators
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • conterminous united-states
  • countryside survey
  • observing system
  • temporal trend
  • biodiversity
  • classification
  • design
  • earth
  • land
  • landscapes


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