Aim To produce a statistical stratification of the European environment, suitable for stratified random sampling of ecological resources, the selection of sites for representative studies across the continent, and to provide strata for modelling exercises and reporting.
Location A ‘Greater European Window’ with the following boundaries: 11° W, 32° E, 34° N, 72° N.
Methods Twenty of the most relevant available environmental variables were selected, based on experience from previous studies. Principal components analysis (PCA) was used to explain 88% of the variation into three dimensions, which were subsequently clustered using an ISODATA clustering routine. The mean first principal component values of the classification variables were used to aggregate the strata into Environmental Zones and to provide a basis for consistent nomenclature.
Results The Environmental Stratification of Europe (EnS) consists of 84 strata, which have been aggregated into 13 Environmental Zones. The stratification has a 1 km2 resolution. Aggregations of the strata have been compared to other European classifications using the Kappa statistic, and show ‘good’ comparisons. The individual strata have been described using data from available environmental databases. The EnS is available for noncommercial use by applying to the corresponding author.
Main conclusions The Environmental Stratification of Europe has been constructed using tried and tested statistical procedures. It forms an appropriate stratification for stratified random sampling of ecological resources, the selection of sites for representative studies across the continent and for the provision of strata for modelling exercises and reporting at the European scale.