The Habitat Guide was compiled especially for the purposes of the biggest vegetation survey ever performed in Hungary (MÉTA). In this project satellite image supported field mapping of (semi)natural habitats of all Hungary was carried out in a hexagonal grid of 35 hectares. List and area proportions of habitats in each hexagon, and 17 other attributes including naturalness, threats, presence of invasive species, land use and landscape-ecological attributes were documented. The aim of the Habitat Guide was to serve as a comprehensive basis for the habitat survey and to ensure the equal quality of the mapping, since nearly 200 mappers were involved in this project. However, the Habitat Guide is very suitable for other habitat surveys beyond the MÉTA project as well.
The Habitat Guide not only includes the modified version of the Hungarian National Habitat Classification System (Á-NÉR) with detailed descriptions of the more than 80 habitat types according to the following structure (1500-2000 words for each type): definition, site conditions, characteristic species, vegetation context, subtypes (with short descriptions), types not belonging here (the correct category is given); but gives thorough information about the patterns on the satellite image characteristic for the certain habitat type, identification of naturalness-based habitat quality and regeneration potential with many examples. The habitat classification system and the definitions in the Habitat Guide reflect the traditional phytosociological views but also lean on the physiognomical approach and pay attention to site conditions as well.
The uniqueness of the guide stands in the fact that all of the mappers contributed to its compilation in two steps. First, by reviewing the description of at least 10 habitat types before starting the mapping, and second, during the discussions on the compulsury field-trips as preparation for the mapping the mappers raised their questions and added their comments.