Red List habitat classification > RLE - Grasslands > RLE1.1g Perennial rocky grassland of Central Europe and the Carpathians

Perennial rocky grassland of Central Europe and the Carpathians

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLE1.1g
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)


These open to relatively closed perennial grasslands occur on outcrops and steep slopes of mostly calcareous but also siliceous rocks. They are dominated by graminoids such as Bromopsis pannonica, Bromus riparius, Carex humilis, Festuca dalmatica, Festuca pallens and various species of Sesleria and Stipa. Perennial herbs are common, whereas other life forms such as chamaephytes, therophytes and geophytes occur with various abundance, although they are found in most stands. The participation of annuals increases significantly in the southern parts of the habitat’s range because of the stronger Mediterranean influence. From the phytogeographical point of view, these grasslands combine central European species with numerous submediterranean, continental steppic and de-alpine species. Especially on limestone or dolomite these grasslands can be species-rich and contain some species with narrow geographic ranges. Phytosociologically, this habitat type corresponds to the order Stipo pulcherrimae-Festucetalia pallentis (class: Festuco-Brometea).

These grasslands are distributed at low hilly and submontane areas of the Bohemian Massif, Alps, Carpathians, and low mountains and hilly lowlands of the northern and central Balkan Peninsula. Westwards the habitat reaches North-East France and adjacent Belgium, Germany and Switzerland. At many sites these grasslands represent natural vegetation, but in some places they developed as secondary vegetation of deforested areas on shallow soils. Especially on dolomite slopes continuous weathering of the parent rock into gravel particles maintains constant soil erosion which limits encroachment of woody plants and keeps the landscape open. On limestone and dolomite slopes there is often a distinct contrast in vegetation on slopes of different aspect. South-facing slopes harbor more open vegetation, often with less than 50% cover, with dominance of narrow-leaved tussock grasses and aromatic semi-scrubs. In contrast, north-facing slopes support denser grasslands dominated by various species of Sesleria that contain several species typical of higher altitudes of the Alps or the Carpathians which have scattered and in many cases probably relict occurrences at lower altitudes. Soils are various subtypes of Leptosol.

Most of these grasslands occur in naturally treeless areas on steep and naturally eroded slopes that are difficult to access and unsuitable for agriculture. These grasslands are very stable and usually are not directly endangered unless they are destroyed by quarrying. However, secondary grasslands on less steep slopes were traditionally maintained by grazing, especially by goats. When grazing ceases, they are subject to encroachment of shrubs and trees.

Indicators of good quality:

Most valuable stands occur at sites with long historical continuity which contains steno-endemic species and species with isolated occurrences, in many cases probably of relict origin. Indicators of good quality include:

·         Occurrence of endemic or rare species, or species at isolated localities far from their continuous range.

·         No signs of spread of mesophilous species or development of dense grassland.

·         No signs of encroachment of trees and shrubs.

·         In secondary grasslands continuation of grazing by goats or sheep.

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

The reduction in quantity and in biotic and abiotic quality over the last 50 years are both relatively small and the habitat is widespread in central and eastern Europe. Therefore a Least Concern (LC) status is concluded for this habitat.
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

  • Agriculture
    • Abandonment of pastoral systems, lack of grazing
  • Mining, extraction of materials and energy production
    • Open cast mining
  • Human intrusions and disturbances
    • Mountaineering, rock climbing, speleology
  • Pollution
    • Nitrogen-input
  • Natural biotic and abiotic processes (without catastrophes)
    • Biocenotic evolution, succession

Habitat restoration potential

Overgrown semi-natural sites possibly can be restored by removal of woody encroachment and re-introduction of a proper grazing system within perhaps 10 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

While natural stands of this habitat do not need special measures, for semi-natural stands the maintenance of the traditional grazing is essential, possibly accompanied by removal of woody encroachment. Additionally, direct destruction of well-developed examples of this habitat type by quarries or by rock climbing and similar outdoor sports should be prevented.

List of conservation and management needs

  • No measures
    • No measures needed for the conservation of the habitat/species
  • Measures related to agriculture and open habitats
    • Maintaining grasslands and other open habitats


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 3.1 Decreasing Decreasing
Bulgaria Present 493 Decreasing Decreasing
Czech Republic Present 4 Decreasing Decreasing
France mainland Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Germany Present 4.5 Decreasing Decreasing
Hungary Present 5 Decreasing Stable
Luxembourg Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Poland Present 3.5 Decreasing Decreasing
Romania Present 10 Unknown Stable
Slovakia Present 9.7 Decreasing Decreasing
Slovenia Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Belgium Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Croatia 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 25 Decreasing Decreasing
Kosovo Uncertain Unknown Decreasing Unknown
Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Present 840 Decreasing Decreasing
Serbia Present Unknown Unknown Decreasing
Switzerland Present Unknown Unknown Decreasing
Liechtestein Uncertain - -

Extent of Occurrence, Area of Occupancy and habitat area

Extent of Occurrence (EOO) (Km2) Area of Occupancy (AOO) Current estimated Total Area Comment
EU28 1055500 Not provided yet 848 The estimate for Bulgaria might be too high based on an inconsistent interpretation of the habitat type
EU28+ Not provided yet 849 The estimate for Bulgaria and the Republic of Macedonia might be too high based on an inconsistent interpretation of the habitat type
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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