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Limestone pavements

Quick facts

EU Habitats Directive Annex I habitat type (code 8240)
Habitat type Priority
Natura 2000 sites 206 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)


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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 2013-2018 assessments as reported by EU Member State. Assessments are further detailed in the summary document available behind the link below.

Good: A habitat is in a situation where it is prospering and with good prospects to do so in the future as well
Poor: 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
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
Ferns Cystopteris fragilis
Ferns Dryopteris villarii
Ferns Gymnocarpium robertianum
Flowering Plants Cerastium pumilum
Flowering Plants Cerastium semidecandrum
Flowering Plants Dryas octopetala
Flowering Plants Epipactis atrorubens
Flowering Plants Fraxinus excelsior
Flowering Plants Gentiana verna
Flowering Plants Geranium robertianum
Flowering Plants Geranium sanguineum
Flowering Plants Neotinea maculata
Flowering Plants Polygonatum odoratum
Flowering Plants Prunus spinosa
Flowering Plants Ribes spicatum
Flowering Plants Sedum album
Mosses & Liverworts Grimmia pulvinata
Mosses & Liverworts Tortella tortuosa
Species scientific name English common name Species group
Asplenium ruta-muraria Ferns
Cystopteris fragilis Ferns
Dryopteris villarii Ferns
Gymnocarpium robertianum Ferns
Cerastium pumilum Flowering Plants
Cerastium semidecandrum Flowering Plants
Dryas octopetala Flowering Plants
Epipactis atrorubens Flowering Plants
Fraxinus excelsior Flowering Plants
Gentiana verna Flowering Plants
Geranium robertianum Flowering Plants
Geranium sanguineum Flowering Plants
Neotinea maculata Flowering Plants
Polygonatum odoratum Flowering Plants
Prunus spinosa Flowering Plants
Ribes spicatum Flowering Plants
Sedum album Flowering Plants
Grimmia pulvinata Mosses & Liverworts
Tortella tortuosa Mosses & Liverworts

Natura 2000 sites

Protected in the following Natura 2000 sites

Sitecode Country Site name Action
AT1203A00 Austria Ötscher - Dürrenstein Map
AT1212A00 Austria Nordöstliche Randalpen: Hohe Wand - Schneeberg - Rax Map
AT2204000 Austria Steirisches Dachsteinplateau Map
AT2210000 Austria Ennstaler Alpen/Gesäuse 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
FR9301580 France Mont Ventoux 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
IT1201010 Italy Ambienti calcarei d'alta quota della Valle di Rhêmes Map
IT1202000 Italy Parco naturale Mont Avic Map
IT1202020 Italy Mont Avic e Mont Emilius Map
IT1203070 Italy Mont Mars Map
IT1204010 Italy Ambienti Glaciali del Monte Bianco Map
IT1204030 Italy Val Ferret Map
IT1204220 Italy Ambienti glaciali del Gruppo del Monte Rosa Map
IT1205010 Italy Ambienti d'alta quota della Valgrisenche Map
IT1205020 Italy Ambienti d'alta quota del Colle del Gran San Bernardo Map
IT1205064 Italy Vallone del Grauson Map
IT1205065 Italy Vallone dell'Urtier Map
IT1205081 Italy Ambienti calcarei d'alta quota attorno al Lago Tsan Map
IT1323920 Italy Monte Galero Map
IT1331615 Italy Monte Gazzo Map
IT1332603 Italy Parco di Portofino Map
IT1345005 Italy Portovenere - Riomaggiore - S. Benedetto Map
IT1345104 Italy Isola Palmaria Map
IT1345109 Italy Montemarcello Map
IT2020002 Italy Sasso Malascarpa Map
IT2020301 Italy Triangolo Lariano Map
IT2060005 Italy Val Sedornia - Val Zurio - Pizzo della Presolana Map
IT2060401 Italy Parco Regionale Orobie Bergamasche Map
IT3110015 Italy Biotopo Hühnerspiel Map
IT3110027 Italy Gardena - Valle Lunga - Puez nel Parco Naturale Puez-Odle Map
IT3110029 Italy Parco Naturale dello Sciliar - Catinaccio Map
IT3110049 Italy Parco Naturale Fanes - Senes - Braies Map
IT3110050 Italy Parco Naturale Tre Cime Map
IT3120086 Italy Servis Map
IT3120095 Italy Bocca D'ardole - Corno della Paura Map
IT3120110 Italy Terlago Map
IT3120111 Italy Manzano Map
IT3120114 Italy Monte Zugna Map
IT3120116 Italy Monte Malachin Map
IT3120126 Italy Val Noana Map
IT3120127 Italy Monti Tremalzo e Tombea Map
IT3120147 Italy Monti Lessini Ovest Map
IT3120159 Italy Brenta Map
IT3120160 Italy Lagorai Map
IT3120171 Italy Muga Bianca - Pasubio Map
IT3120176 Italy Monte Sadron Map
IT3120177 Italy Dolomiti di Brenta Map
IT3120178 Italy Pale di San Martino Map
IT3220037 Italy Colli Berici Map
IT3230003 Italy Gruppo del Sella Map
IT3230071 Italy Dolomiti di Ampezzo Map
IT3230078 Italy Gruppo del Popera - Dolomiti di Auronzo e di Val Comelico Map
IT3230081 Italy Gruppo Antelao - Marmarole - Sorapis Map
IT3230083 Italy Dolomiti Feltrine e Bellunesi Map
IT3230084 Italy Civetta - Cime di San Sebastiano Map
IT3230089 Italy Dolomiti del Cadore e del Comelico Map
IT3310006 Italy Foresta del Cansiglio Map
IT3320012 Italy Prealpi Giulie Settentrionali Map
IT3321002 Italy Alpi Giulie Map
IT3340006 Italy Carso Triestino e Goriziano Map
IT3341002 Italy Aree Carsiche della Venezia Giulia Map
IT4050001 Italy Gessi Bolognesi, Calanchi dell'Abbadessa Map
IT4070011 Italy Vena del Gesso Romagnola Map
IT5110006 Italy Monte Sagro Map
IT5110008 Italy Monte Borla - Rocca di Tenerano Map
IT5120008 Italy Valli glaciali di Orto di Donna e Solco d'Equi Map
IT5120009 Italy Monte Sumbra Map
IT5120013 Italy Monte Tambura - Monte Sella Map
IT5120014 Italy Monte Corchia - Le Panie Map
IT5120015 Italy Praterie primarie e secondarie delle Apuane Map
IT6020005 Italy Monti Reatini Map
IT6020007 Italy Gruppo Monte Terminillo Map
IT6020020 Italy Monti della Duchessa (area sommitale) Map
IT6020021 Italy Monte Duchessa - Vallone Cieco e Bosco Cartore Map
IT6020046 Italy Riserva naturale Montagne della Duchessa Map
IT6030040 Italy Monte Autore e Monti Simbruini centrali Map
IT6050004 Italy Monte Viglio (area sommitale) Map
IT6050007 Italy Monte Tarino e Tarinello (area sommitale) Map
IT6050008 Italy Monti Simbruini ed Ernici Map
IT6050010 Italy Valle dell'Inferno Map
IT6050012 Italy Monte Passeggio e Pizzo Deta (area sommitale) Map
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
IT7110206 Italy Monte Sirente e Monte Velino Map
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
IT9310009 Italy Timpone di Porace Map
IT9310013 Italy Serra delle Ciavole-Serra di Crispo Map
IT9310021 Italy Cozzo del Pellegrino Map
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
SE0330176 Sweden Stora Alvaret Map
SE0340023 Sweden Stora Karlsö Map
SE0340025 Sweden Lilla Karlsö Map
SE0340040 Sweden Torsburgen Map
SE0340082 Sweden Hoburgsmyr Map
SE0340090 Sweden Hall-Hangvar Map
SE0340115 Sweden Östergarnsberget Map
SE0340117 Sweden Ölbäck Map
SE0340120 Sweden Bästeträsk Map
SE0340131 Sweden Herrgårdsklint Map
SE0340142 Sweden Russvätar Map
SE0340143 Sweden Mallgårds haid Map
SE0340148 Sweden Mölnermyr Map
SE0340190 Sweden Hejdeby hällar Map
SE0340201 Sweden Suderbys hällar Map
SE0340202 Sweden Kyllajhajdar Map
SE0340203 Sweden Ormhällar-Bromyr Map
SE0340204 Sweden Pärkhagen Map
SE0340205 Sweden Stora Vikers Map
SE0340206 Sweden Stadshagen Map
SE0340207 Sweden Slättflis Map
SE0340211 Sweden Hejnum hällar Map
SI3000253 Slovenia Julijske Alpe Map
SI3000264 Slovenia Kamniško - Savinjske Alpe Map

Protected sites

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Relation to habitat classifications

Classification Code Habitat type name Relationship type
Nordic Vegetation Classification 1994 Asplenium ruta-muraria-Asplenium trichomanes-Homalothecium sericeum- variant; variant of "5151 Sedum album-Tortella spp. typ not defined
Nordic Vegetation Classification 1994 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
European Environment Agency (EEA)
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