Red List habitat classification > RLB - Coastal habitats > RLB1.7a Atlantic and Baltic broad-leaved coastal dune woodland

Atlantic and Baltic broad-leaved coastal dune woodland

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLB1.7a
Threat status
Europe Least Concern
EU Least Concern
Relation to
Source European Red List habitat factsheet
European Red List of habitats reports
European Red List of habitats (Excel table)

Summary

This is a very broadly defined habitat of Atlantic coastal dunes, comprising a diversity of relatively open to closed woodlands which develop where more stable coastal sands are invaded by broadleaved trees typical of the local soils and climatic conditions. It includes forests in dry and wet conditions, on calcareous and acidic sands and in the climatic gradient from southern Norway and the Baltics towards central Portugal. Many of these forests are indistinguishable in their floristic composition from inland examples of the same general type.

A first division can be made between forests of dry and moist soils. In moist dune slacks in the whole range of the habitat these forests are rather similar, with Betula pendula as one of the most important tree species, accompanied by Populus tremula. The understory consists of a combination of dune shrubs and common dune slack species, like Mentha aquatica, Phragmites australis, Valeriana officinalis, Cirsium palustre, Eupatorium cannabinum and Calamagrostis epigejos (alliance Ligustro vulgaris-Betulion pubescentis, sometimes considered as part of the Alnion incanae). In wetter conditions Alnus glutinosa or Betula pubescens may become dominant (Alnion glutinosae, Betulion pubescentis), with helophytic species like Thelypteris palustris and Lycopus europaeus. In some sites Sphagnum species dominate the moss layer. Rarely Salix alba will colonise wet dune slacks, forming woodlands.

The dry forests are more diverse, with Quercus robur as the dominant species in the Northwest-Atlantic and Baltic, and more thermophilous Quercus species (Q. ilex, Q. rotundifolia, Q. suber) in the warmer parts of the Atlantic coast, south of Loire estuary. In general these forests have a similar species combination to more inland forests on sandy soils, although some typical dune species like Carex arenaria and Calamagrostis epigejos will occur more frequently. The Quercus forests from the acidic dune sands in the northern and Baltic part of the range (alliance Quercion roboris) are often relatively species poor, with a heathy aspect beneath the trees, Calluna vulgaris, Empetrum nigrum, Festuca ovina, Carex arenaria, Lonicera periclymenum, Polypodium vulgare and other common species in the herb layer, and in many cases a high cover of bryophytes (Pleurozium schreberi, Hypnum spp., Dicranum scoparium, Polytrichum spp.) and lichens (Cladonia spp.). On slightly richer, more mature soils, Fagus sylvaticus may be dominant, or a combination of Quercus robur, Ulmus minor, Acer pseudoplatanus and Fraxinus excelsior (classified under Alnion incanae). The field layer may contain a set of geophytes, like Scilla non-scripta and Galanthus nivalis. Most different from inland types are the Quercus robur forests on calcareous dune sands, widespread in the central part of the Dutch dunes, but elsewhere rare. These, in many cases relatively young forests, contain a lot of shrubs, like Crataegus monogyna, Rosa spp., Berberis vulgaris, Euonymus europaeus, Ligustrum vulgare, Hippophae rhamnoides and Rhamnus cathartica. The herb layer differs, depending on the exposition of the dunes, but often includes a combination of species preferring dry, sandy soils and species of more humus- rich soils, with mixtures such as Carex arenaria, Calamagrostis epigejos, Glechoma hederacea, Polygonatum odoratum, Convallaria majalis, Geranium robertianum and Galium aparine. Sometimes rare species are found in the woodland edges, like Scrophularia vernalis. In the southern part of the distribution range more Mediterranean species are found in the canopy, like Quercus ilex, Q. suber and Q. pyrenaica sometimes mixed with Pinus pinaster, and in the understorey Ruscus aculeatus, Cistus salviifolius, Arbutus unedo, Rubia peregrina, Ligustrum vulgare and Iris foetidissima.

Because the coastal dunes of Europe have been relatively intensively used by man for many centuries, and in other parts are very dynamic, in general dune forests are relatively young and in many places also rare. Other woodlands have been created by planting, often with pine species, like dune areas between the Loire estuary and Les Landes in (South)western France. In general dune woodlands are restricted to the more inland parts of the dunes, but in some places low trees grow seawards as far as the first dune ridge, being reduced to a bonsai structure by the salty wind. Old plantations with dominance of deciduous trees with a similar structure and species composition as natural forests may be considered under this habitat. Pine forests on dunes belong to B1.7d (Baltics) or B1.7e (Mediterranean), while lower, shrubby woodlands, for example dominated by Salix cinerea in dune slacks or Crataegus monogyna on dry dunes, and Sambucus nigra woodland, in most cases growing together with Hippophae rhamnoides, are considered part of habitat B1.6a.

Indicators of good quality

These are relatively young woodlands, which often still are in a certain stage of succession. Open structures contribute to the richness of the species diversity. 

• Variety of open woodlands (with many gradients towards shrub, heathland and grassland) and closed forests (with more typical species of shaded conditions)                   

• Dominance of broad-leaved species

• Absence of non-native or nitrophilous species

• Abundance of spring-flowering geophytes

• No or a low rate of disturbance by recreation

Characteristic species
For full habitat description, please download the habitat factsheet.

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

The overall analysis of data leads to the conclusion Least Concern for recent, historical and future changes in quantity and quality. Although the negative trends in quality are small, the values are close to the thresholds for Near Threatened.
EU
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Least Concern -
Europe
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Least Concern -

Confidence in the assessment

medium
Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • Sylviculture, forestry
    • Forest and Plantation management & use
  • Transportation and service corridors
    • Roads, paths and railroads
  • Urbanisation, residential and commercial development
    • Urbanised areas, human habitation
  • Human intrusions and disturbances
    • Outdoor sports and leisure activities, recreational activities
  • Invasive, other problematic species and genes
    • Invasive non-native species
  • Natural System modifications
    • Human induced changes in hydraulic conditions
  • Geological events, natural catastrophes
    • Fire (natural)

Habitat restoration potential

This is a forest type, which needs relatively long time for complete restoration. The type itself may be realized within 20 years, but for a good quality with structural variation a longer time period is needed. As most Atlantic dune forests are relatively young in Europe, no exact indication of time-scale can be given (50 or 200 years).

Trends in extent

Average current trend in quantity

Decreasing Decreasing
EU28 EU28+

Trends in quality

Average current trend in quality

Decreasing Decreasing
EU28 EU28+

Conservation and management needs

No management may be necessary in order to realize older stages of forests. Removal of non-native species may be relevant in some cases. In other cases continuation of coppice management or restoration of hydrological systems may be needed for conservation of species diversity.

List of conservation and management needs

  • No measures
    • No measures needed for the conservation of the habitat/species
  • Measures related to forests and wooded habitats
    • Restoring/Improving forest habitats
    • Adapt forest management
  • Measures related to wetland, freshwater and coastal habitats
    • Restoring/Improving the hydrological regime
  • Measures related to hunting, taking and fishing and species management
    • Specific single species or species group management measures

Distribution

For each habitat a distribution map was produced from a wide variety of sources indicating known and potential occurrences of the habitat in 10x10 km grids within Europe. Occurrences in grid cells were given in two classes: actual distribution from relatively reliable sources (surveys, expert knowledge), and potential distribution based on models or less reliable indicators. Please download the fact sheet to see the map.

Geographic occurrence and trends

EU28 Present or presence uncertain Current area of habitat (Km2) Recent trend in quantity (last 50 years) Recent trend in quality (last 50 years)
Belgium Present 3 - Unknown
Estonia Present 1 - Unknown
Finland mainland Present 0.8 Unknown Unknown
France mainland Present 200 Decreasing Stable
Ireland Present 0.1 - Unknown
Latvia Present Decreasing Decreasing
Sweden Present 1 Decreasing Unknown
Denmark Present - -
Aland Islands Uncertain 0.8 Unknown Unknown
Germany Present 21 - -
EU28 + Present or presence uncertain Current area of habitat (Km2) Recent trend in quantity (last 50 years) Recent trend in quality (last 50 years)

Extent of Occurrence, Area of Occupancy and habitat area

Extent of Occurrence (EOO) (Km2) Area of Occupancy (AOO) Current estimated Total Area Comment
EU28 429220 288 424 excl.
EU28+ 297 424 excl.
AOO = the area occupied by a habitat measured in number of 10x10 km grid cells.
EOO = the area (km2) of the envelope around all occurrences of a habitat (calculated by a minimum convex polygon).

Characteristic species

The full list of characteristic species and genus are available above from the Summary. The species available in the EUNIS database are shown here.
Conifers Pinus pinaster
Ferns Polypodium vulgare
Ferns Thelypteris palustris
Flowering Plants Acer pseudoplatanus
Flowering Plants Alnus glutinosa
Flowering Plants Arbutus unedo
Flowering Plants Berberis vulgaris
Flowering Plants Betula pendula
Flowering Plants Betula pubescens
Flowering Plants Calamagrostis epigejos
Flowering Plants Calluna vulgaris
Flowering Plants Carex arenaria
Flowering Plants Cirsium palustre
Flowering Plants Convallaria majalis
Flowering Plants Crataegus monogyna
Flowering Plants Empetrum nigrum
Flowering Plants Euonymus europaeus
Flowering Plants Eupatorium cannabinum
Flowering Plants Fagus sylvatica
Flowering Plants Festuca ovina
Flowering Plants Fraxinus excelsior
Flowering Plants Galanthus nivalis
Flowering Plants Galium aparine
Flowering Plants Geranium robertianum
Flowering Plants Glechoma hederacea
Flowering Plants Hedera helix
Flowering Plants Hippophae rhamnoides
Flowering Plants Iris foetidissima
Flowering Plants Ligustrum vulgare
Flowering Plants Lonicera periclymenum
Flowering Plants Lycopus europaeus
Flowering Plants Mentha aquatica
Flowering Plants Phragmites australis
Flowering Plants Polygonatum odoratum
Flowering Plants Populus tremula
Flowering Plants Quercus ilex
Flowering Plants Quercus robur
Flowering Plants Rubia peregrina
Flowering Plants Ruscus aculeatus
Flowering Plants Salix alba
Flowering Plants Salix cinerea
Flowering Plants Sambucus nigra
Flowering Plants Scilla non-scripta
Flowering Plants Scrophularia vernalis
Flowering Plants Teucrium scorodonia
Flowering Plants Ulmus minor
Flowering Plants Valeriana officinalis
Mosses & Liverworts Dicranum scoparium
Mosses & Liverworts Pleurozium schreberi
Species scientific name English common name Species group
Pinus pinaster Conifers
Polypodium vulgare Ferns
Thelypteris palustris Ferns
Acer pseudoplatanus Flowering Plants
Alnus glutinosa Flowering Plants
Arbutus unedo Flowering Plants
Berberis vulgaris Flowering Plants
Betula pendula Flowering Plants
Betula pubescens Flowering Plants
Calamagrostis epigejos Flowering Plants
Calluna vulgaris Flowering Plants
Carex arenaria Flowering Plants
Cirsium palustre Flowering Plants
Convallaria majalis Flowering Plants
Crataegus monogyna Flowering Plants
Empetrum nigrum Flowering Plants
Euonymus europaeus Flowering Plants
Eupatorium cannabinum Flowering Plants
Fagus sylvatica Flowering Plants
Festuca ovina Flowering Plants
Fraxinus excelsior Flowering Plants
Galanthus nivalis Flowering Plants
Galium aparine Flowering Plants
Geranium robertianum Flowering Plants
Glechoma hederacea Flowering Plants
Hedera helix Flowering Plants
Hippophae rhamnoides Flowering Plants
Iris foetidissima Flowering Plants
Ligustrum vulgare Flowering Plants
Lonicera periclymenum Flowering Plants
Lycopus europaeus Flowering Plants
Mentha aquatica Flowering Plants
Phragmites australis Flowering Plants
Polygonatum odoratum Flowering Plants
Populus tremula Flowering Plants
Quercus ilex Flowering Plants
Quercus robur Flowering Plants
Rubia peregrina Flowering Plants
Ruscus aculeatus Flowering Plants
Salix alba Flowering Plants
Salix cinerea Flowering Plants
Sambucus nigra Flowering Plants
Scilla non-scripta Flowering Plants
Scrophularia vernalis Flowering Plants
Teucrium scorodonia Flowering Plants
Ulmus minor Flowering Plants
Valeriana officinalis Flowering Plants
Dicranum scoparium Mosses & Liverworts
Pleurozium schreberi Mosses & Liverworts

Vegetation types

Relation to vegetation types (syntaxa)

Not available

Other classifications

This habitat may be equivalent to, or broather than, or narrower than the habitats or ecosystems in the following typologies.
Classification Code Habitat type name Relationship type
EUNIS Habitat Classification 200711 B1.7 Coastal dune woods narrower
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