A nature type is a region where the nature is relatively homogeneous, and where there are some characteristic features that makes the landscape different from other regions. Each nature type usually contains a unique species composition. The actual species composition is determined by environmental conditions in the region.
Traditionally, regions in nature have been characterized by the inhabiting vegetation and its composition, and particularly focussing on dominating vascular plants (vegetation types). Landscapes vary, however, not only in terms of higher plants.
Limiting environmental factors
Environmental conditions are a suitable starting point for characterization of nature types. Such conditions determine which species may inhabit the area, and therefore define what is to be considered as homogeneous or heterogeneous nature types. Some deterministic factors are climate, hydrology, topography, and geology.
Important primary producers
A characterization of a nature type must contain an assessment of all species living in the region: vascular plants, mosses, animals and fungi. Plants are primary producers, and a condition for the existence of other species groups. They create an environment for other species by altering structure and acidity of the soil, and through impacts on light and humidity. They also create three-dimensional surfaces, which provide living grounds for many organisms.
A variety of habitats
The topic of biodiversity makes us think of the occurrence of species. Species are, however, only a part of the picture. In nature, both biological and non-biological factors offer great variation and looking at each plant or animal on a smaller scale, there are many habitats for species. A landscape with great variation in environmental conditions will therefore contain many different habitats, thereby providing a potential for rich biodiversity.
The work of the Norwegian Biodiversity Information Centre
The Norwegian Biodiversity Information Centre is working to improve the knowledge of Norwegian nature types. The first step is to elaborate a new classification of Norwegian nature types, built on a scientific basis from the collective research groups around Norway. This project is called “Ny norsk naturtypeinndeling”.