Appendix 6.7 CMECS and CBiCS ecosystem classification systems


  • The CMECS and CBiCS are recommended for testing and comparison with the IUCN Global Ecosystem Typology (GET).

  • United States’ Coastal and Marine Ecological Classification System (CMECS): classifies CMECS classifies the environment into biogeographic and aquatic settings that are differentiated by features influencing the distribution of organisms, and by salinity, tidal zone, and proximity to the coast. Within these systems are four underlying components that describe different aspects of the seascape. These components provide a structured way to organize information and a standard terminology. The components can be mapped independently or combined as needed, as illustrated in Figure 25 below.

Figure 25. Structure and components of CMECS classification scheme.

  • ESCAP is testing the CMECS for applicability to the ocean accounts. Meanwhile, other classification schemes are also being reviewed.

  • Combined Biotope Classification Scheme (CbiCS): adapts components from the Joint Nature Conservation Committee – European Nature Information System (JNCC-EUNIS) and the CMECS. It provides a unified scheme for classifying all marine habitats and biotopes and is consistent with the terrestrial classification of vegetation biotopes and biotope complexes (e.g. Ecological Vegetation Classes (EVCs)). CbiCS is a hierarchical scheme that enables the incorporation of a variety of information sources of disparate types and levels of resolution. The hierarchical components used to formulate the biotope classification of CbiCS (left), and the hierarchical components of the biotic component (right), are illustrated in Figure 26 below.

Figure 26. Hierarchical components of CBiCs classification scheme and Biotic Component hierarchy.


Global Ocean Accounts Partnership, 2019