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  • Boreal Baltic islets and small islands (according to Habitats Directive Annex I) are groups of skerries, islets or single small islands, mainly in the outer archipelago or offshore areas. They are important nesting sites for birds and resting sites for seals. The surrounding sublittoral vegetation is also included. The distribution map is based on data submission by HELCOM contracting parties. Only Sweden and Finland reported occurrences of boreal Baltic islets and small islands.

  • Estuaries (according to Habitats Directive Annex I) are coastal inlets that are strongly influenced by freshwater. The distribution map is based on data submission by HELCOM contracting parties. Most of the submitted data is based on modelling, GIS analysis and/or aerial photos. Data coverage, accuracy and the methods in obtaining the data vary between countries.

  • Sandbanks (according to Habitats Directive Annex I) are areas elevated from their surroundings that consist mainly of sand, but where cobbles and boulders can occur. Distribution map is based on data submission by HELCOM contracting parties. Most of the submitted data is based on modelling, GIS analysis and only limited ground-truthing has been carried out. Data coverage, accuracy and the methods in obtaining the data vary between countries.

  • Mudflats and sandflats not covered by seawater at low tide (according to Habitats Directive Annex I) are often devoid of vascular plants, usually coated by blue algae and diatoms. They are of particular importance as feeding grounds for wildfowl and waders. The distribution map is based on data submission by HELCOM contracting parties. Only Denmark, Germany and Estonia reported occurrences of mudflats and sandflats. Most of the submitted data is based on modelling and/or GIS analysis. Data coverage, accuracy and the methods in obtaining the data vary between countries.

  • Lagoons are expanses of shallow coastal waters, wholly or partially separated from the sea by sandbanks or shingle, or by rocks. Salinity may vary from brackish water to hypersalinity depending on rainfall, evaporation and addition of fresh seawater from storms, temporary flooding, or tidal exchange. The distribution map is based on data submission by HELCOM contracting parties. Most of the submitted data is based on modelling and/or GIS analysis. Data coverage, accuracy and the methods in obtaining the data vary between countries.

  • Large shallow inlets bays (according to Habitats Directive Annex I) are large, shallow indentations of the coast, sheltered from wave action and where, in contrast to estuaries, the influence of freshwater is generally limited. The distribution map is based on data submission by HELCOM contracting parties. Most of the submitted data is based on GIS analysis and modelling, but also field inventories and ground-truthing has been carried out in some areas. Data coverage, accuracy and the methods in obtaining the data vary between countries.

  • Esker islands (according to Habitats Directive Annex I) are glaciofluvial islands consisting mainly of relatively well sorted sand, gravel or less commonly of till. Also their underwater parts are included in the habitat. The distribution map is based on data submission by HELCOM contracting parties. Only Sweden and Finland reported occurrences of esker islands. Only underwater parts are included in the datasets. The data is based on modelling and GIS analysis. Data coverage, accuracy and the methods in obtaining the data vary between countries.

  • 'Availability of deep water habitat, based on occurrence of H2S' layer describes the suitability of the bottom areas for the Baltic Sea biota, with regard to oxygen conditions of the near bottom waters. The data used to produce the layer was received from Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde (IOW): - areas (polygons) with hydrogen sulfide (H2S) based on point measurements and modelling. Five time periods / year, for years 2011-2016 (altogether 30 layers). The polygons were converted to raster layers in a way, that for each time period (6 years, 5 time periods each year), areas with H2S got a value 0, other areas got the value 1. All layers were summed, (representing 6 years, 5 time periods each year, maximum value 30) and data was normalised. For more detailed information on the data used, please see Feistel et al. 2016.

  • This map presents the Special Protection Areas (SPAs) with reported breeding areas for birds. The spatial data on Special Protection Areas were gathered from the HELCOM contracting parties by Lund University, Sweden. In the data, the countries also indicated whether the sites were designated mainly due to wintering or breeding birds in the area. For Denmark, the information was obtained from standard forms for Natura 2000 sites. For Denmark, the data was updated after review process 20 February 2017. For Germany, the areas that were reported as “NA”(=information not available) were included in both breeding and wintering area maps. Many of the SPAs are both wintering and breeding areas. For the Baltic Sea Impact Index, the data was converted to 1 km x 1km grid cells.

  • Submarine structures made by leaking gases (according to Habitats Directive Annex I) are also known as “bubbling reefs”. These formations support a zonation of diverse benthic communities consisting of algae and/or invertebrate specialists of hard marine substrates different to that of the surrounding habitat. The distribution map is based on data submission by HELCOM contracting parties. Only Sweden and Denmark reported occurrences of submarine structures made by leaking gases.