Classification combines a set of environmental layers (not contextual layers) into one new layer that retains most of the information in all the input layers. The classification groups on the output layer are referred to as ‘environmental domains’. Each environmental domain on the map is colour coded to reflect the relationships with all other domains; similar coloured domains/groups represent similar environments.

Why is this used? The distribution of species is controlled by environmental conditions and species interactions. When there is inadequate biological data, which is most of the time, environmental domains may be a useful surrogate for biodiversity in environmental planning and management.  The classification method used in the spatial portal is called ALOC from the ecological analysis package called PATN.

See Tools | Classification for more details and the Classification case study for an example of how this tool can be used.