Norway’s natural environment is much more than just mountains and stones. The country is home to steppes, coral reefs and humid forests. Scientists have divided these diverse environments into different types and levels.

Nature types in Norway (NiN) is the first complete classification system of nature in Norway. It includes all environments found throughout Norway in a systematic way. A system that is as comprehensive as this is naturally quite complex.

NiN contains 117 major types divided into four different nature-type levels: landscapes and seascapes, landscape elements, ecological systems, and microhabitats. A fifth level, region, is used to describe regional variation in the types listed in the other levels. The major types can further be divided into basic types.

The regional level

This is a overarching level that describes regional variation. Examples of variation at a regional level include temperature, precipitation and sea currents.

Landscapes and seascapes

The landscape level in NiN is based on large landforms and is divided into five major types with corresponding basic types. All landscape types, from the deep sea to high mountain landscapes are described on a coarse scale. The continental slope and fjord and valley landscapes are examples of this kind of classification.

Landscape element

A landscape element ​​is a new term that describes larger concurrent ecosystem entities. Examples include mire complexes, coral reefs and lakes. NiN defines 12 major types of landscape elements.

Ecological system

This level describes variation on a finer scale of 1:5000 on a map, which corresponds to traditional vegetation mapping. This level describes variation on the sea or lake beds, and variations in the ground on land. Examples of ecological systems are coral-garden seabeds, bilberry forests, geo- to supralittoral rocky shores, pastures and snow-beds. In total, NiN describes 68 major types of ecological systems, each with their own basic types.

Microhabitat

This is the level that describes the “address” of a plant or an animal. A microhabitat could be a rocky flat, a rotting tree trunk or open seawater. For some species that live as parasites, a microhabitat may be the species on which it lives. NiN describes 32 major types of microhabitats with basic types.