Red List habitat classification > RLD - Mires and bogs > RLD2.2b Relict mire of Mediterranean mountains

Relict mire of Mediterranean mountains

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLD2.2b
Threat status
Europe Near Threatened
EU Vulnerable
Relation to
Source European Red List habitat factsheet
European Red List of habitats reports
European Red List of habitats (Excel table)


Oligo- to mesotrophic mires of the montane and subalpine belts of Mediterranean mountains of the High Atlas (Morocco), Sierra Nevada and Corse, and of high mountains (above 1900 m altitude) of the Western Balkan peninsula. These mires occur on the edges of glacial lakes and around mountain streams, forming waterlogged ‘blankets’ in relatively flat areas with impermeable soils, where a peat layer has developed on siliceous bedrocks. The type is differentiated from mires and grasslands with a similar physiognomy in the Alps, Pyrenees and rest of the Balkan by the presence and dominance of narrow-endemic relict species, and by the lower frequency of Sphagnum species. The sites of this habitat in the South-European mountains are characterised by relative cold and humid conditions, creating a distinct green habitat in a dry landscape. Water supply and temperature vary relatively little during the year, compared to surrounding habitats. In the high mountains of the Balkan this habitat is covered by snow most of the year.

The mires are bordered by streams, springs and lakes on the lower edges, and by moist grasslands with Nardus stricta (E3.2b) on the drier edges. The habitat is dominated by Carex nigra ssp. intricata in the Sierra Nevada and Corse, and by Carex nigra var. macedonica in the Balkan. In Spain also Festuca frigida may dominate, while in Corse along streams Trichophorum cespitosum may be dominant. Common species in both Mediterranean regions are Carex echinata, Carex nevadensis, Agrostis canina and Viola palustris. Different characteristic endemic species  are found in the different regions. For several genera, vicariant endemic species are found in the different mountain regions. Such species are considered tertiary relicts. Examples in these mires are Pinguicula nevadensis, Pinguicula corsica and Pinguicula balcanica, and also Narthecium reverchonii (Corse) and Narthecium scardicum (Balkan). Some of the characteristic species also grow outside the mires, like Pinguicula corsica and Narthecium reverchonii along waterfalls on wet rocks. Together with the adjacent Nardus grasslands of E3.2b, these conspicuous habitats are called Pozzines in Corse and Borreguiles in the Sierra Nevada.

Indicators of good quality:

In wet conditions these grasslands are relatively stable. Desiccation causes a succession towards Nardus grasslands of E3.2b. Abandonment leads to the development of tall herb vegetation. The type may expand slowly by vegetation succession in open water. Indicators of good quality are:

  • presence of endemic species
  • high vegetation cover
  • low cover of (encroaching) tall herbs and shrubs
  • situated in a gradient from water to drier grassland

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

Relatively few quantitative data on trends in quality and quantity are available, but the information provided indicates relatively small declines in these parameters. However, overall the habitat is assessed to be Vulnerable (VU) within the EU28, because of the small distribution area (AOO) in combination with expected changes in hydrological functioning as a result of climate change (changes in temperature and precipitation patterns). For the EU28+ the AOO is slightly higher, resulting in the category Near Threatened (NT). There is no quantitative data or model available for future trends, but it would be worth to carry out a model for this restricted and fragile habitat.
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Vulnerable B2
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Near Threatened B2

Confidence in the assessment

Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • Human intrusions and disturbances
    • Outdoor sports and leisure activities, recreational activities
  • Pollution
    • Pollution to surface waters (limnic, terrestrial, marine & brackish)
  • Natural System modifications
    • Human induced changes in hydraulic conditions
  • Natural biotic and abiotic processes (without catastrophes)
    • Biocenotic evolution, succession
  • Climate change
    • Changes in abiotic conditions

Habitat restoration potential

This is a fragile habitat, which is likely to need a long term period for recovery.

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 relict mires are very fragile habitats, being dependent on wet conditions in a dry climate. The main conservation need is the maintanance of the hydrological functioning and the prevention of disturbance by human activities. A strict legal protection would help a lot, and therefore distinction as a separate mire type under the Habitat's Directive is also needed. As there are many narrow endemic species in this habitat, soem specific restoration measures for species may be applicable.

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to wetland, freshwater and coastal habitats
    • Restoring/Improving the hydrological regime
    • Managing water abstraction
  • Measures related to spatial planning
    • Establish protected areas/sites
  • Measures related to hunting, taking and fishing and species management
    • Specific single species or species group management measures


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)
Corsica Present 1.3 Stable Stable
Spain mainland Present 51 Decreasing Decreasing
Bulgaria Present 1.3 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)
Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Present unknown Decreasing Decreasing
Albania Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Bosnia and Herzegovina Uncertain - -
Kosovo Present Unknown Decreasing Stable

Extent of Occurrence, Area of Occupancy and habitat area

Extent of Occurrence (EOO) (Km2) Area of Occupancy (AOO) Current estimated Total Area Comment
EU28 436850 40 55
EU28+ 45 >55 not exactly determined
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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