Red List habitat classification > RLB - Coastal habitats > RLB3.1b Mediterranean and Black Sea rocky sea cliff and shore

Mediterranean and Black Sea rocky sea cliff and shore

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLB3.1b
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 type comprises open, halo-chasmophytic communities developing on the cliffs along the thermo-Atlantic, Mediterranean and Black Sea coasts. These coenoses develop under the influence of salt spray from the sea, especially in the supralittoral parts. Vertical to gently sloping bedrock and stable boulders in the supralittoral (or splash zone) of the majority of rocky shores are typically characterised by diverse maritime communities of yellow and grey lichens, such as Xanthoria parietina, Caloplaca marina, Lecanora atra and Ramalina spp. The black lichen Verrucaria maura is also present, but usually in lower abundance than in the littoral fringe zone. In wave exposed conditions, where the effects of salt spray extend further up the shore, the lichens generally form a wide and distinct band. The higher parts of sea cliffs are colonized by disjunct assemblages of salt-tolerant, halophytic or even halo-nitrophilous crevice plants (chasmophytes) or by more or less closed salt-tolerant grasslands (mainly on the cliff top). Perennial herbs are dominant, but also some annuals occur. There are processes of aridisation of the vegetation on the top of the higher rocks where the floristic composition is richer in different species depending upon the neighbouring dominant vegetation. The floristic composition depends also on the bedrock types, which are very diverse in the different part of habitat’s range. The main two groups are calcareous and silicate (often with volcanic origin) rocks and even loess-sand low cliffs along the Romanian Black Sea coast. Rare and endemic plants as well as widely distributed and ruderal nitrophilous species occur in the species composition. The vegetation belongs to the class Crithmo-Staticetea and the character species Crithmum maritimum is common everywhere in the habitat’s range. The Mediterranean sea cliffs harbour numerous endemics of extremely local occurrence, in particular many species belonging to the genus Limonium, which comprises at least 43 and probably 120 to 150 Mediterranean cliff species, many of which restricted to a few localities. Several of these species are seriously threatened, like for instance Limonium remotispiculum of southern Italy and Limonium strictissimum of Corsica and Caprera. Some stable and high coastal cliffs are inhabited by shrub communities of Ficus carica, Colutea arborescens and Ulmus minor.

Indicators of good quality:

In good conditions this habitat is rich in regional endemic species and the natural floristic structure is given by salt-tolerant chasmophytic species and halophytes. It is threatened by natural causes: the abrasive activities of sea waves leading to the natural destruction of the rocks. Other threats are the tourist development of the coastal areas, pollution and nitrification of the coastal cliffs and increase of not typical ruderal or alien species.

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

All provided data lead to the conclusion that the habitat qualifies as Least Concern (LC) because the negative trends in quantity and in quality are small, and the habitats has a wide geographical distribution.
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
    • Continuous urbanisation
    • Dispersed habitation
  • Human intrusions and disturbances
    • Walking, horseriding and non-motorised vehicles
    • Motorised vehicles
    • Mountaineering & rock climbing
    • Golf course
    • Trampling, overuse
  • Pollution
    • Nutrient enrichment (N, P, organic matter)

Habitat restoration potential

The recovery process of degraded areas is quite rapid if the frequantation is organised and controled.

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

In protected areas, the fencing of degraded places and control of freqentation allow the natural regeneration of this habitat.

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to wetland, freshwater and coastal habitats
    • Restoring coastal areas


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)
Cyprus Present 1 Unknown Stable
France mainland Present 57 Decreasing Decreasing
Corsica Present 57 Decreasing Decreasing
Greece (mainland and other islands) Present 305 Decreasing Stable
Crete Present 305 Decreasing Stable
East Aegean Present 305 Decreasing Stable
Italy mainland Present 97 Decreasing Decreasing
Sardinia Present 97 Decreasing Decreasing
Sicily Present 97 Decreasing Decreasing
Malta Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Slovenia Present 0.03 Stable Stable
Spain mainland Present 16 Decreasing Stable
Balearic Islands Present 16 Decreasing Stable
Bulgaria Present 0.85 Decreasing Decreasing
Portugal mainland Present 0.3 Decreasing Decreasing
Romania Present 0.1 Decreasing Stable
Croatia Present 12 Decreasing Decreasing
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 - -
Bosnia and Herzegovina Present 0.65 Decreasing Decreasing

Extent of Occurrence, Area of Occupancy and habitat area

Extent of Occurrence (EOO) (Km2) Area of Occupancy (AOO) Current estimated Total Area Comment
EU28 3241450 1317 490 Based on existing data provided by EU member States.
EU28+ 1322 491 The provided quantitative data are not complete.
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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