Red List habitat classification > RLB - Coastal habitats > RLB2.1b Mediterranean and Black Sea coastal shingle beach

Mediterranean and Black Sea coastal shingle beach

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLB2.1b
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)


This habitat represents beaches with pebbles or small- to medium-sized cobbles (as opposed to sand beaches of type B1.1b). Typically, the stones’ size ranges from 2 mm to 200 mm diameter. The habitat is mainly formed on abrasive coasts, where sea waves (mostly in winter) weather physically the coastal cliffs.The eroded material forms shingle beaches, where different size of stones are mixed with mollusc shells, algae and sea grasses (Zostera spp., Posidonia oceanica) that are washed ashore. These deposits are normally rich in nitrogen due to the high quantity of decaying plant and animal remnants. In most sites there is no vegetation in this habitat, but in some places communities of annual and even perennial plants may occur, most frequent from the class Cakiletea maritimae. Sometimes semi-ruderal and nitrophilic coenoses can be developed as well. All communities have open structure and usually very low cover. The most typical plants are Argusia sibirica, Crambe maritima, Matthiola sinuata, Glaucium flavum, Euphorbia peplis and Salsola kalii. In the thermo-Mediterranean zone, some large coastal gravel banks may be partially colonised by evergreen woodland or riparian thickets dominated by Quercus ilex, Tamarix africana or Vitex agnus-castus. Such habitats are not included in this habitat type, but are considered under the relevant scrub and forest types.

These shingle beaches are rare along the western Black Sea coasts, but more common along the Mediterranean coasts, although sometimes they cannot be clearly distinguished from sand beaches.

Indicators of quality:

Well conserved shingle beaches host mostly annuals, but also by some perennials. Although this habitat is mobile in nature and thus adapted to natural disturbances, intense human disturbances may cause the complete removal of vegetation cover. Indicators of good quality are:

  • the persistence of low vegetation cover
  • diversity and dominance of annual species and presence of some perennials
  • absence of active tourist pressure or anthropogenic structures on the beaches that prevent the drift accumulation
  • absence of alien species such as Cenchrus spinifex and C. longispinus.

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

The habitat type is assessed as Least Concern under all criteria for which data were available. The reduction in quantity is relatively small (-18%) and the same goes for the degradation in quality, while the habitat is relatively widespread along the Mediterranean and Black Sea coasts.
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Least Concern -
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Least Concern -

Confidence in the assessment

Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • Urbanisation, residential and commercial development
    • Urbanised areas, human habitation
  • Pollution
    • Soil pollution and solid waste (excluding discharges)
  • Invasive, other problematic species and genes
    • Invasive non-native species
  • Natural System modifications
    • Dykes, embankments, artificial beaches, general
    • Sea defense or coast protection works, tidal barrages

Habitat restoration potential

The habitat has some capacity to recover naturally, but this depends on the slow geological processes. It could be restored in some areas be restabilising a natural contact zone between sea waves and coastal cliffs.

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

The most important conservation measure is the strict protection of the coastal shingle and the restoration of their natural ecological functions.

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to wetland, freshwater and coastal habitats
    • Restoring coastal areas
  • Measures related to spatial planning
    • Establish protected areas/sites


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)
Bulgaria Present 0.82 Decreasing Decreasing
Croatia Present 0.14 Decreasing Decreasing
Cyprus Present 1 Decreasing Stable
Greece (mainland and other islands) Present 9.1 Decreasing Decreasing
Crete Present 9.1 Decreasing Decreasing
Italy mainland Present Unknown Decreasing Decreasing
Sardinia Present Unknown Decreasing Decreasing
Sicily Present Unknown Decreasing Decreasing
Malta Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Portugal mainland Present Unknown Unknown
Romania Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Slovenia Present 0.04 Stable Stable
Spain mainland Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Balearic Islands Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Canary Islands Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
EU28 + Present or presence uncertain Current area of habitat (Km2) Recent trend in quantity (last 50 years) Recent trend in quality (last 50 years)
Albania Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Montenegro Present Unknown Unknown Unknown

Extent of Occurrence, Area of Occupancy and habitat area

Extent of Occurrence (EOO) (Km2) Area of Occupancy (AOO) Current estimated Total Area Comment
EU28 2191400 117 11.4
EU28+ 119 11.4
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

Not available

Vegetation types

Relation to vegetation types (syntaxa)

Not available

Other classifications

Not available
European Environment Agency (EEA)
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