The main objective of the BIOPRESS project was to determine historical changes (1950 – 1990 – 2000) in land cover across Europe for the purpose of measuring changes in habitats and their biodiversity.


The adopted approach was to sample Europe using 2 x 15 km transects and 30 x 30 km windows, containing one or more Natura-2000 sites, and establish changes by finding and interpreting 1950’s aerial photos that had been acquired for these samples. The aerial photos were interpreted following the CORINE land cover nomenclature and definitions. The methodology for the transects and windows was slightly different: for the transects a time series of aerial photos (1950, 1990 and 2000) were acquired and interpreted at a 0.5 ha minimum mapping unit; for the windows, the CORINE land cover layer of 1990 was used as the baseline and backdated with aerial photos maintaining the CORINE 25 ha minimum mapping unit. A total of 59 Transects and 73 Windows were processed (transects are located within windows). The land cover change data produced from this exercise was stored in an ACCESS database and integrated into regional biodiversity impact tables, also developed as part of the BIOPRESS project.

Map of study areas
Map of study areas


The BIOPRESS book contains the aerial photo interpretation of the 59 transects accompanied with, where available, a description of the area, the Natura-2000 site it partly includes or ‘touches’ and a short explanation of some observed changes. For a copy of the book contact Dr. France Gerard,

The land cover change data and main BIOPRESS reports (including the regional biodiversity impact tables and the aerial photo interpretation manual) is now freely available to download.


BIOPRESS (‘Linking Pan-European Land Cover Change to Pressures on Biodiversity’) was funded by the European Commission DG Research under the specific research and technological development programme “Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development” and the “Global Monitoring for the Environment and Security” initiative of the Fifth Framework Programme.