Red List habitat classification > RLC - Freshwater habitats > RLC5.4 Inland saline or brackish helophyte bed

Inland saline or brackish helophyte bed

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLC5.4
Threat status
Europe Endangered
EU Endangered
Relation to
Source European Red List habitat factsheet
European Red List of habitats reports
European Red List of habitats (Excel table)


This habitat includes helophytes beds developing in inland saline or brackish lakes, ponds and other standing or slowly flowing waters (such as saline Mediterranean rivers) subjected to dry out during summer. The habitat may include, depending by the hydrological regime, emergent communities dominated by species tolerant to brackish or saline conditions such as Bolboschoenus maritimus, Typha laxmannii, Typha domingensis, Phragmites australis, Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani, Schoenoplectus triqueter, or communities dominated by tall rushes, such as Juncus maritimus, Juncus acutus and Juncus subulatus. The communities are species-poor and often mono-dominant. Similar communities in dune slacks are considered part of habitats B1.8a or B1.8b.

In warmer and continental parts of Europe, during the hot summer, the water level in the wetlands may decrease and the water may even completely disappear. Several species inhabiting this habitat, especially reed, may survive even under such hypersaline conditions. Bolboschoenus maritimus is the most widespread middle tall helophyte on the water margins of wetlands with different levels of salinity, growing in a range from freshwater to hypersaline water. These communities mainly inhabit the water fringes, but when a wetland dries out during the year, they may expand and cover the whole bottom of a lake or pond.

This habitat is typically in contact with the habitats C1.5 (Permanent inland saline and brackish waters), C3.5 (Periodically exposed saline shores with pioneer and ephemeral vegetation) and E6 (inland salt steppes). It is distributed in the arid continental and Mediterranean parts of Europe.

Indicators of quality:

  • Minimum salinity around 0.5 ‰
  • Natural high electrical conductivity of the water
  • No alteration of the natural salinity range
  • Dominance of halophytic emergent species rather than freshwater emergent species
  • Absence of overgrowing with shrubs and trees
  • No signs of eutrophication and dominance of ruderal species
  • No indicator of negative anthropogenic influence (e.g. regulation of the water level, chemical pollution)

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

Saline reedbeds qualify as Endangered (EN) due to a very large historical decline in quantity (72%) based on estimations from three EU28 and one addiitonal EU28+ countries. Although the number of countries is low, the analysed area is still more than 50% of the present area. The most severe historical decline took place in Hungary (-90%) and the Czech Republic (-98%). These values overrule a strong historical increase in Austria.
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Endangered A3
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Endangered A3

Confidence in the assessment

Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • Agriculture
    • Cultivation
    • Grazing
    • Abandonment of pastoral systems, lack of grazing
    • Irrigation
  • Natural System modifications
    • Human induced changes in hydraulic conditions
    • Landfill, land reclamation and drying out, general
    • Canalisation & water deviation
    • Flooding modifications
    • Modification of hydrographic functioning, general
    • Modification of standing water bodies
    • Saltwater intrusion of groundwater
    • Other human induced changes in hydraulic conditions
  • Climate change
    • Droughts and less precipitations

Habitat restoration potential

Yes, if adequate water levels/hydroperiods or shores can be restored. Pending on the situation, this can be done through indirect intervention (eg improving catchment area functionality) or naturally (by stopping water input).

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

Avoid input of freshwater that would modify water (soil) salinity and prevent seasonal dry periods. Avoid embankment, modification of cathment area or water derivation that would result in absence of flooding (which can be corrected by water input in some areas). From a broader nature conservation point-of-view tall helophytes may form a threat to more endangered saline or brackish grasslands. Therefore extensive grazing should be promoted where tall helophytes are at risk of expansion.

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to wetland, freshwater and coastal habitats
    • Restoring/Improving the hydrological regime


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)
Austria Present 160 Stable Increasing
Bulgaria Present Unknown Decreasing Decreasing
Czech Republic Present 0.7 Decreasing Decreasing
Denmark Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
France mainland Present unknown Unknown Unknown
Germany Present unknown Unknown Unknown
Hungary Present 75 Decreasing Decreasing
Italy mainland Present 55 Decreasing Decreasing
Sardinia Present 55 Decreasing Decreasing
Sicily Present 55 Decreasing Decreasing
Lithuania Present 11 Stable Increasing
Netherlands Present 0.6 Unknown Decreasing
Slovakia Present 0.01 Decreasing Decreasing
Slovenia Present 0.2 Stable Stable
Croatia Present Unknown Stable Stable
Cyprus Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Greece (mainland and other islands) Present 156 Unknown Unknown
Romania Present 20 Decreasing Unknown
Estonia Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Finland mainland Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Aland Islands Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Corsica Present unknown Unknown Unknown
Crete Uncertain 156 Unknown Unknown
East Aegean Uncertain 156 Unknown Unknown
Ireland Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Latvia Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Luxembourg Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Malta Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Poland Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Portugal mainland Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Portugal Azores Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Madeira Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Savage Islands Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Spain mainland Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Balearic Islands Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Canary Islands Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Sweden Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Belgium Uncertain - -
United Kingdom Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Northern Island Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Gibraltar 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)
Bosnia and Herzegovina Present 3 Decreasing Decreasing
Albania Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Andorra Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Faroe Islands Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Guernsey Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Iceland Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Isle of Man Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Jersey Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Kaliningrad Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Kosovo Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Liechtestein Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Monaco Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Montenegro Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Svalbard Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Jan Mayen Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
San Marino Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Serbia Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Switzerland Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Vatican City Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Norway Mainland Uncertain 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 4121300 144 478 Estimates based on 10 countries
EU28+ 149 481 Estimates based on 11 countries
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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