Limestone pavements

Quick facts

EU Habitats Directive Annex I habitat type (code 8240)
EU conservation status by biogeographical region Alpine - Favourable
Atlantic - Unfavourable-Inadequate
Boreal - Unfavourable-Inadequate
Continental - Favourable
Mediterranean - Unfavourable-Inadequate
Habitat type Priority
Natura 2000 sites 223 are designated for this habitat type

Description (English)

Regular blocks of limestone known as "clints" with loose flags separated by a network of vertical fissures known as "grykes" or "shattered pavements", containing more loose limestone rubble. The rock surface is almost devoid of overlying soils (considerably less than 50% cover) except for some patches of shallow skeletal or loessic soils, although more extensive areas of deeper soil occasionally occur; sometimes there is encroachment of peat. This morphology offers a variety of microclimates allowing the establishment of complex vegetation consisting of a mosaic of different communities. The fissures provide a cold humid microclimate where shade-tolerant vascular plants such as Geranium robertianum and Ceterach officinale occur, as well as formations of herbaceous species typical of calcareous woodland; the small pockets of soil are occupied by communities of Mesobromion (e.g. Seslerio-Mesobromenion); heath and scrub also occur (e.g. Corylo-Fraxinetum). Apart from the species rich areas of scrub (generally Prunetalia spinosae), the ecosystem is maintained by grazing in some regions; this, combined with severe winds, means that isolated shrubs can only survive in prostrate growth form (e.g. Dryas octopetala); at ungrazed sites, marginal areas of Geranium sanguineum occur.
In Sweden, limestone blocks are larger and cracks are smaller. The species composition reflects a more continental, dryer and cooler climate. The pavements are mostly exposed with scattered cushions of bryophytes, more seldom covered by a thin layer of soil. The surface is covered by Sedum album, Cerastium pumilum, Cerastium semidecandrum, lichens (Aspicilia calcarea, Thamnolia vermicularis, Verrucaria nigrescens) and bryophytes (Tortella tortuosa, Grimmia pulvinata). The vegetation in the cracks contains Gymnocarpium robertianum, Asplenium ruta-muraria, Asplenium trichomanes ssp. quadrivalens and, occasionally, bushes of Prunus spinosa, Fraxinus excelsior, Cotoneaster spp., Rosa spp.
Some sites in Ireland host an open Taxus-Juniperus scrub of major interest; certain arctic alpine species such as Gentiana verna and Dryas octopetala are characteristic and in The Burren, these species occur with Atlantic-Mediterranean species such as Neotinea maculata.

Source: Interpretation Manual of European Union Habitats, version EUR 28 (2013)

Distribution

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Conservation status

EU conservation status

Conservation status assesses every six years and for each biogeographical region the condition of habitats and species compared to the favourable status as described in the Habitats Directive. The map shows the 2007-2012 assessments as reported by EU Member State. Assessments are further detailed in the summary document available behind the link below.

Favourable: A habitat is in a situation where it is prospering and with good prospects to do so in the future as well
Unfavourable-Inadequate: A habitat is in a situation where a change in management or policy is required to return the habitat to favourable status but there is no danger of disappearance in the foreseeable future
Unfavourable-Bad: A habitat is in serious danger of disappearing (at least regionally)
Unknown: The information available for the habitat type is scarce and does not allow a proper assessment of its conservation status

Species mentioned in habitat description

Ferns Asplenium ruta-muraria
Flowering Plants Cerastium pumilum
Flowering Plants Cerastium semidecandrum
Ferns Cystopteris fragilis
Flowering Plants Dryas octopetala
Ferns Dryopteris villarii
Flowering Plants Epipactis atrorubens
Flowering Plants Fraxinus excelsior
Flowering Plants Gentiana verna
Flowering Plants Geranium robertianum
Flowering Plants Geranium sanguineum
Mosses & Liverworts Grimmia pulvinata
Ferns Gymnocarpium robertianum
Flowering Plants Neotinea maculata
Flowering Plants Polygonatum odoratum
Flowering Plants Prunus spinosa
Flowering Plants Ribes spicatum
Flowering Plants Sedum album
Mosses & Liverworts Tortella tortuosa
Species scientific name English common name Species group
Asplenium ruta-muraria Ferns
Cerastium pumilum Flowering Plants
Cerastium semidecandrum Flowering Plants
Cystopteris fragilis Ferns
Dryas octopetala Flowering Plants
Dryopteris villarii Ferns
Epipactis atrorubens Flowering Plants
Fraxinus excelsior Flowering Plants
Gentiana verna Flowering Plants
Geranium robertianum Flowering Plants
Geranium sanguineum Flowering Plants
Grimmia pulvinata Mosses & Liverworts
Gymnocarpium robertianum Ferns
Neotinea maculata Flowering Plants
Polygonatum odoratum Flowering Plants
Prunus spinosa Flowering Plants
Ribes spicatum Flowering Plants
Sedum album Flowering Plants
Tortella tortuosa Mosses & Liverworts

Natura 2000 sites

Protected in the following Natura 2000 sites

Sitecode Country Site name Action
AT1203A00 Austria Ötscher - Dürrenstein Map
AT2204000 Austria Steirisches Dachsteinplateau Map
AT2233000 Austria Raabklamm Map
AT2243000 Austria Totes Gebirge mit Altausseer See Map
AT3101000 Austria Dachstein Map
AT3111000 Austria Nationalpark Kalkalpen und Umgebung Map
AT3211012 Austria Kalkhochalpen, Salzburg Map
AT3304000 Austria Karwendel Map
AT3309000 Austria Tiroler Lech Map
AT3410000 Austria Gadental Map
AT3438000 Austria Ifen Map
EE0010101 Estonia Tuhala Map
EE0010114 Estonia Kostivere Map
EE0010152 Estonia Ubari Map
EE0020313 Estonia Jalase Map
EE0020330 Estonia Pae Map
EE0040496 Estonia Vilsandi Map
FR2100275 France Marais tourbeux du plateau de Langres (secteur Sud-Ouest) Map
FR2100277 France Marais tufeux du plateau de Langres (secteur Nord) Map
FR4301294 France Moyenne Vallée du Doubs Map
FR4301331 France Vallées et côtes de la Bienne, du Tacon et du Flumen Map
FR4301334 France Petite montagne du Jura Map
FR7200732 France Coteaux de Thézac et de Montayral Map
FR7200746 France Massif de l'Anie et d'Espelunguère Map
FR7200750 France Montagnes de la Haute Soule Map
FR7401119 France Pelouses calcicoles et forêts du Causse corrézien Map
FR8201656 France Bois de Païolive et Basse Vallée du Chassezac Map
FR8201678 France Milieux aquatiques et alluviaux de la basse vallée de la Drôme Map
FR8201688 France Pelouses, forêts et habitats rocheux de la montagne de l'Aup et de la Sarcena Map
FR8201700 France Haut Giffre Map
FR8201701 France Les Aravis Map
FR8201703 France Massif de la Tournette Map
FR8201704 France Les Frettes - Massif des Glières Map
FR8201705 France Massif du Bargy Map
FR8201727 France L'Isle Crémieu Map
FR8201740 France Hauts de Chartreuse Map
FR8201744 France Hauts plateaux et contreforts du Vercors oriental Map
FR8201745 France Pelouses, forêts remarquables et habitats rocheux du Plateau du Sornin Map
FR8201751 France Massif de la Muzelle Map
FR8201775 France Rebord méridional du Massif des Bauges Map
FR8201778 France Landes, prairies et habitats rocheux du massif du mont Thabor Map
FR8202002 France Partie orientale du Massif des Bauges Map
FR9301497 France Plateau d'Emparis - Goleon Map
FR9301499 France Clarée Map
FR9301502 France Steppique Durancien et Queyrassin Map
FR9301526 France La Tour des Sagnes - Vallon des Terres Pleines - Orrenaye Map
FR9301529 France Dormillouse - Lavercq Map
FR9301533 France L'Asse Map
FR9301561 France Marguareis - La Brigue - Fontan - Saorge Map
FR9301570 France Préalpes de Grasse Map
FR9301606 France Massif de la Sainte-Baume Map
FR9301616 France Grand canyon du Verdon - plateau de la Palud Map
FR9301617 France Montagne de Malay Map
IE0000020 Ireland Black Head-Poulsallagh Complex SAC Map
IE0000032 Ireland Dromore Woods and Loughs SAC Map
IE0000054 Ireland Moneen Mountain SAC Map
IE0000057 Ireland Moyree River System SAC Map
IE0000115 Ireland Ballintra SAC Map
IE0000191 Ireland St. John's Point SAC Map
IE0000212 Ireland Inishmaan Island SAC Map
IE0000213 Ireland Inishmore Island SAC Map
IE0000216 Ireland River Shannon Callows SAC Map
IE0000242 Ireland Castletaylor Complex SAC Map
IE0000252 Ireland Coole-Garryland Complex SAC Map
IE0000268 Ireland Galway Bay Complex SAC Map
IE0000297 Ireland Lough Corrib SAC Map
IE0000432 Ireland Barrigone SAC Map
IE0000440 Ireland Lough Ree SAC Map
IE0000479 Ireland Cloughmoyne SAC Map
IE0000606 Ireland Lough Fingall Complex SAC Map
IE0000979 Ireland Corratirrim SAC Map
IE0001271 Ireland Gortnandarragh Limestone Pavement SAC Map
IE0001275 Ireland Inisheer Island SAC Map
IE0001774 Ireland Lough Carra/Mask Complex SAC Map
IE0001926 Ireland East Burren Complex SAC Map
IE0002241 Ireland Lough Derg, North-East Shore SAC Map
IE0002244 Ireland Ardrahan Grassland SAC Map
IT1140004 Italy Alta Val Formazza Map
IT1140021 Italy Val Formazza Map
IT1160057 Italy Alte Valli Pesio e Tanaro Map
IT1201000 Italy Parco Nazionale del Gran Paradiso Map
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IT6050014 Italy Vallone Lacerno (fondovalle) Map
IT6050016 Italy Monte Ortara e Monte La Monna Map
IT7110128 Italy Parco Nazionale Gran Sasso - Monti della Laga Map
IT7110130 Italy Sirente Velino Map
IT7110202 Italy Gran Sasso Map
IT7110205 Italy Parco Nazionale d'Abruzzo Map
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IT7120132 Italy Parco Nazionale d'Abruzzo, Lazio e Molise ed aree limitrofe Map
IT7140129 Italy Parco Nazionale della Maiella Map
IT7140203 Italy Maiella Map
IT9210200 Italy Monte Sirino Map
IT9210271 Italy Appennino Lucano, Valle Agri, Monte Sirino, Monte Raparo Map
IT9310013 Italy Serra delle Ciavole-Serra di Crispo Map
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PTCON0010 Portugal Arrábida / Espichel Map
PTCON0015 Portugal Serras d'Aire e Candeeiros Map
PTCON0045 Portugal Sicó / Alvaiázere Map
PTCON0048 Portugal Serra de Montejunto Map
PTCON0050 Portugal Cerro da Cabeça Map
PTZPE0050 Portugal Cabo Espichel Map
SE0220203 Sweden Lånestaheden Map
SE0330023 Sweden Karum Map
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SE0340023 Sweden Stora Karlsö Map
SE0340025 Sweden Lilla Karlsö Map
SE0340040 Sweden Torsburgen Map
SE0340082 Sweden Hoburgsmyr Map
SE0340090 Sweden Hall-Hangvar Map
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SI3000253 Slovenia Julijske Alpe Map
SI3000264 Slovenia Kamniško - Savinjske Alpe Map
UK0012782 United Kingdom Ingleborough Complex Map
UK0012785 United Kingdom Strath Map
UK0012786 United Kingdom Durness Map
UK0012787 United Kingdom Inchnadamph Map
UK0012891 United Kingdom Tulach Hill and Glen Fender Meadows Map
UK0012926 United Kingdom Berwyn a Mynyddoedd de Clwyd/ Berwyn and South Clwyd Mountains Map
UK0014774 United Kingdom Moor House - Upper Teesdale Map
UK0014775 United Kingdom North Pennine Dales Meadows Map
UK0014776 United Kingdom Craven Limestone Complex Map
UK0014777 United Kingdom Morecambe Bay Pavements Map
UK0014778 United Kingdom Asby Complex Map
UK0014788 United Kingdom Great Orme`s Head/ Pen y Gogarth Map
UK0016603 United Kingdom Cuilcagh Mountain Map
UK0019820 United Kingdom Mointeach nan Lochain Dubha Map
UK0030078 United Kingdom Alyn Valley Woods/ Coedwigoedd Dyffryn Alun Map
UK0030124 United Kingdom Coedwigoedd Penrhyn Creuddyn/ Creuddyn Peninsula Woods Map
UK0030146 United Kingdom Coedwigoedd Dyffryn Elwy/ Elwy Valley Woods Map
UK0030163 United Kingdom Halkyn Mountain/ Mynydd Helygain Map
UK0030243 United Kingdom Rassal Map
UK0030300 United Kingdom West Fermanagh Scarplands Map

Protected sites

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Relation to habitat classifications

Classification Code Habitat type name Relationship type
EUNIS Habitat Classification 200711 H3.511 Limestone pavements same
Nordic Vegetation Classification 1994 5.1.5.1b Asplenium ruta-muraria-Asplenium trichomanes-Homalothecium sericeum- variant; variant of "5151 Sedum album-Tortella spp. typ not defined
Nordic Vegetation Classification 1994 5.1.5.1 Sedum album-Tortella spp. typ not defined
National Vegetation Classification (UK) W8 Fraxinus excelsior-Acer campestre-Mercurialis perennis woodland wider
National Vegetation Classification (UK) W9 Fraxinus excelsior-Sorbus aucuparia-Mercurialis perennis woodland wider
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