Biodiversity & Conservation

Habitat Sensitivity

Sensitivity is defined according to the following scenarios. These scenarios give rise to rationale used to combine intolerance and recoverability in order to determine sensitivity (see below). For further information refer to the summary rationale.

Rank Definition
Very High "Very high" sensitivity is indicated by the following scenario:
  • The habitat or species is very adversely affected by an external factor arising from human activities or natural events (either killed/destroyed, "high" intolerance) and is expected to recover only over a prolonged period of time, i.e. >25 years or not at all (recoverability is "very low" or "none").
  • The habitat or species is adversely affected by an external factor arising from human activities or natural events (damaged, "intermediate" intolerance) but is not expected to recover at all (recoverability is "none").
High "High" sensitivity is indicated by the following scenarios:
  • The habitat or species is very adversely affected by an external factor arising from human activities or natural events (killed/destroyed, "high" intolerance) and is expected to recover over a very long period of time, i.e. >10 or up to 25 years ("low" recoverability).
  • The habitat or species is adversely affected by an external factor arising from human activities or natural events (damaged, "intermediate" intolerance) and is expected to recover over a very long period of time, i.e. >10 years (recoverability is "low", or "very low").
  • The habitat or species is affected by an external factor arising from human activities or natural events (reduced viability **, "low" intolerance) but is not expected to recover at all (recoverability is "none"), so that the habitat or species may be vulnerable to subsequent damage.
Moderate "Moderate" sensitivity is indicated by the following scenarios:
  • The habitat or species is very adversely affected by an external factor arising from human activities or natural events (killed/destroyed, "high" intolerance) but is expected to take more than 1 year or up to 10 years to recover ("moderate" or "high" recoverability).
  • The habitat or species is adversely affected by an external factor arising from human activities or natural events (damaged, "intermediate" intolerance) and is expected to recover over a long period of time, i.e. >5 or up to 10 years ("moderate" recoverability).
  • The habitat or species is affected by an external factor arising from human activities or natural events (reduced viability **, "low" intolerance) but is expected to recover over a very long period of time, i.e. >10 years (recoverability is "low", "very low"), during which time the habitat or species may be vulnerable to subsequent damage.
Low "Low" sensitivity is indicated by the following scenarios:
  • The habitat or species is very adversely affected by an external factor arising from human activities or natural events (killed/destroyed, "high" intolerance) but is expected to recover rapidly, i.e. within 1 year ("very high" recoverability).
  • The habitat or species is adversely affected by an external factor arising from human activities or natural events (damaged, "intermediate" intolerance) but is expected to recover in a short period of time, i.e. within 1 year or up to 5 years ("very high" or "high" recoverability).
  • The habitat or species is affected by an external factor arising from human activities or natural events (reduced viability **, "low" intolerance) but is expected to take more than 1 year or up to 10 years to recover ("moderate" or "high" recoverability).
Very low "Very low" is indicated by the following scenarios:
  • The habitat or species is very adversely affected by an external factor arising from human activities or natural events (killed/destroyed, "high" intolerance) but is expected to recover rapidly i.e. within a week ("immediate" recoverability).
  • The habitat or species is adversely affected by an external factor arising from human activities or natural events (damaged, "intermediate" intolerance) but is expected to recover rapidly, i.e. within a week ("immediate" recoverability).
  • The habitat or species is affected by an external factor arising from human activities or natural events (reduced viability **, "low" intolerance) but is expected to recover within a year ("very high" recoverability).
Not sensitive "Not sensitive" is indicated by the following scenarios:
  • The habitat or species is affected by an external factor arising from human activities or natural events (reduced viability **, "low" intolerance) but is expected to recover rapidly, i.e. within a week ("immediate" recoverability).
  • The habitat or species is tolerant of changes in the external factor.
Not sensitive* The habitat or species may benefit from the change in an external factor (intolerance has been assessed as "tolerant*").
Not relevant The habitat or species is protected from changes in an external factor (i.e. through a burrowing habit or depth), or is able to avoid the external factor.
Insufficient information

(**) ‘Reduced viability’ includes physiological stress, reduced fecundity, reduced growth, and partial death of a colonial animal or plant.

Combining ‘intolerance’ and ‘recoverability’ assessments to determine ‘sensitivity’.
NS = not sensitive, NR = not relevant

Recoverability
None Very low (>25 yr.) Low (>10–25 yr.) Moderate (>5 -10 yr.) High (1 -5 yr.) Very high (<1 yr.) Immediate (< 1 week)
Intolerance High Very high Very high High Moderate Moderate Low Very low
Intermediate Very high High High Moderate Low Low Very Low
Low High Moderate Moderate Low Low Very Low NS
Tolerant NS NS NS NS NS NS NS
Tolerant* NS* NS* NS* NS* NS* NS* NS*
Not relevant NR NR NR NR NR NR NR