A number of applications for the habitat classification system have been identified:
  • to provide a practical system for the consistent description of habitat types;
  • to map habitats to assess their geographical distribution;
  • to map habitats to assess their extent;
  • to provide categories for the assessment of the state of marine biological communities;
  • to assess changes in habitat distribution and extent over time, to provide information on quality status, and rate of change in habitat distribution;
  • to assess the relative importance of particular habitats (i.e. which habitats are rare or of national or regional importance) and the implications of this for prioritising management and conservation action. Such assessment can lead to the listing of habitats for conservation action (e.g. Red lists);
  • to enable the nature conservation value of habitats at specific sites to be assessed, such as in the identification of marine protected areas (MPAs);
  • to enable an assessment of the extent of protection afforded to habitats by existing or proposed MPAs and the degree to which this provides sufficient protection;
  • to enable the range and intensity of human activities that occur in particular habitats, and the degree to which such habitats are affected by those activities, to be systematically assessed;
  • to facilitate presentation of habitat information at a scale and level of detail that enables appropriate management action to be taken. Such presentation should be flexible to address a variety of biodiversity and management issues;
  • habitat mapping information needs to be used in conjunction with other spatial information in Geographical Information Systems (GIS), particularly activities, management and conservation areas, and other environmental data sets.