We provide a global spatially explicit characterization of terrestrial and marine habitat types, as defined in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) habitat classification scheme, which is widely used in ecological analyses, including for assessing species’ Area of Habitat. The maps broaden our understanding of habitats globally, assist in constructing area of habitat (AOH) refinements and are relevant for broad-scale ecological studies and future IUCN Red List assessments.

Data description:
Provided is the code to recreate the map (to made available soon), the global composite image at native -100m Copernicus resolution for level 1 and level 2 and layers of aggregated fractional cover (unit: [0-1] * 1000) at 1km for level 1 and level 2.

Starting with version 004 there changemasks for the years 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 are supplied. Changemasks for the composite masks show the changed grid cells and their new values with earlier years being nested in later years, e.g. using the changemask for 2019 includes all changes up to 2019. For the fractional cover estimates at ~1km resolution, new fractional cover changemasks are supplied as subtraction (before - after) between the previous and current year (unit range: [-1 to 1] * 1000).

We highlight that only changes in land cover are considered since most of the ancillary layers (e.g. pasture, forest management, climate, etc...) are static and thus not all changes in habitats can be found. We therefore recommend end users to continue using the 2015 dataset unless specific habitat updates to habitat are needed.


In addition to the current habitat maps there are also maps of the potential global distribution, e.g. void of human influence, of habitat types following the IUCN habitat classification system at level 1. To create this layer data on the potential distribution of land cover was intersected with data on climate, elevation and topography. In total 12 classes are mapped based on the decision tree by Jung et al. (2020), with the version number of this layer matching the version of the decision tree by Jung et al. Style file for use in QGIS are supplied.