Red List habitat classification > RLE - Grasslands > RLE1.1h Heavy-metal dry grassland of the Balkans

Heavy-metal dry grassland of the Balkans

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLE1.1h
Threat status
Europe Least Concern
EU Near Threatened
Relation to
Source European Red List habitat factsheet
European Red List of habitats reports
European Red List of habitats (Excel table)

Summary

Ultramafic rocks (e.g. serpentine, ophiolite) form dark-colored soils characterized by high content of heavy metals such as iron, nickel, cobalt and chromium, and a relatively low content of nutrients such as calcium, potassium and phosphorous, as well as by a low ratio of Ca/Mg. Ultramafic soils are also characterized by pronounced fluctuation of temperature, heat and drought because of their dark color, small water capacity and usually low organic matter content. The above-mentioned special properties of ultramafic soils are considered responsible for their low fertility and the specialized vegetation they host. Species growing on ultramafic soils possess a range of adaptations to these severe ecologic conditions, such as nanism, pelosity, shiny surfaces and the ability to hyperaccumulate heavy metals in their tissues. In these habitats grow many relict and endemic species. The largest ultramafic surfaces in Europe are found in the Balkan Peninsula: Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo, FYR of Macedonia, Bulgaria and Greece.

Indicators of quality:

This habitat depends on ultramafic soil properties but also on the type of land use. Grazing of medium intensity helps the conservation of the floristic composition and the physiognomy of this habitat type. The following characteristics may be considered as indicators of good quality: natural species composition, absence of invasive species as well as of tall herb, shrub and tree species, regular grazing and presence of endemic or specialized species adapted to ultramafic soils.

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

The habitat type is assessed as Near Threatened (NT) at EU28 level, but with some uncertainty. Very few quantitative information was available to assess its trends in quantity and quality. It meets the criteria for Near Threatened (NT) since the habitat has a relatively small extent of occurrence ≤ 100,000 km2 (B1) and area of occupancy ≤ 100 km2 (B2) in EU28, in combination with (relatively small) continuing pressures and threats. The main threats responsible for the decline of habitat’s quantity and quality are quarrying and mining activities and changes in the grazing regime. In the EU28+ the habitat is much more widespread and does not qualify for any Red List category, and the conclusion is Least Concern (LC).
EU
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Near Threatened B1, B2
Europe
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Least Concern -

Confidence in the assessment

low
Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • Agriculture
    • Grazing
    • Intensive grazing
    • Abandonment of pastoral systems, lack of grazing
  • Sylviculture, forestry
    • Forest planting on open ground
  • Mining, extraction of materials and energy production
    • Mining and quarrying
  • Urbanisation, residential and commercial development
    • Urbanised areas, human habitation
  • Natural biotic and abiotic processes (without catastrophes)
    • Biocenotic evolution, succession

Habitat restoration potential

The habitat does have limited and slow capacity to recover naturally or through intervention because it depends on natural geological and geomorphological processes

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 habitat is characterized by very specific features and it is very rich in local and regional endemic plant species or subspecies. Its conservation status has been assessed only in Cyprus. It is not included in the Annex I of the Habitat’ Directive (except for Cyprus) and thus is not protected in most of the European countries. Legal protection of habitat is necessary all over its distribution range. Therefore, it should be added in the Annex I of Habitats’ Directive and new sites should be designated in conservation networks. Additional measures that can be implemented are the restriction (at least partial) of the creation of new quarries and mines in the habitat’s areas and the proper management of grazing activities.

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to agriculture and open habitats
    • Maintaining grasslands and other open habitats
  • Measures related to spatial planning
    • Establish protected areas/sites
    • Legal protection of habitats and species

Distribution

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 Unknown Decreasing Decreasing
Croatia Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Cyprus Present 0.41 Stable Stable
Greece (mainland and other islands) Present 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 70 Decreasing Decreasing
Bosnia and Herzegovina Present 200 Decreasing Decreasing
Kosovo Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Present Unknown Decreasing Decreasing
Serbia 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 74400 86 Unknown
EU28+ 325 Unknown
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

The full list of characteristic species and genus are available above from the Summary. The species available in the EUNIS database are shown here.
Flowering Plants Achillea pseudopectinata
Flowering Plants Echium rubrum
Flowering Plants Erysimum linariifolium
Flowering Plants Euphorbia glabriflora
Flowering Plants Euphorbia montenegrina
Flowering Plants Fumana bonapartei
Flowering Plants Gypsophila spergulifolia
Flowering Plants Halacsya sendtneri
Flowering Plants Haplophyllum boissieranum
Flowering Plants Medicago prostrata
Flowering Plants Minuartia verna subsp. collina
Flowering Plants Pistorinia hispanica
Flowering Plants Plantago holosteum
Flowering Plants Plantago subulata
Flowering Plants Poa badensis
Flowering Plants Polygonum albanicum
Flowering Plants Potentilla visianii
Flowering Plants Rumex acetosella
Flowering Plants Scabiosa leucophylla
Flowering Plants Scleranthus perennis
Flowering Plants Sedum hispanicum
Flowering Plants Sedum ochroleucum
Flowering Plants Sedum serpentini
Flowering Plants Sesleria latifolia
Flowering Plants Silene armeria
Flowering Plants Silene bupleuroides
Flowering Plants Stachys recta
Flowering Plants Stachys scardica
Species scientific name English common name Species group
Achillea pseudopectinata Flowering Plants
Echium rubrum Flowering Plants
Erysimum linariifolium Flowering Plants
Euphorbia glabriflora Flowering Plants
Euphorbia montenegrina Flowering Plants
Fumana bonapartei Flowering Plants
Gypsophila spergulifolia Flowering Plants
Halacsya sendtneri Flowering Plants
Haplophyllum boissieranum Flowering Plants
Medicago prostrata Flowering Plants
Minuartia verna subsp. collina Flowering Plants
Pistorinia hispanica Flowering Plants
Plantago holosteum Flowering Plants
Plantago subulata Flowering Plants
Poa badensis Flowering Plants
Polygonum albanicum Flowering Plants
Potentilla visianii Flowering Plants
Rumex acetosella Flowering Plants
Scabiosa leucophylla Flowering Plants
Scleranthus perennis Flowering Plants
Sedum hispanicum Flowering Plants
Sedum ochroleucum Flowering Plants
Sedum serpentini Flowering Plants
Sesleria latifolia Flowering Plants
Silene armeria Flowering Plants
Silene bupleuroides Flowering Plants
Stachys recta Flowering Plants
Stachys scardica Flowering Plants

Vegetation types

Relation to vegetation types (syntaxa)

Not available

Other classifications

This habitat may be equivalent to, or broather than, or narrower than the habitats or ecosystems in the following typologies.
Classification Code Habitat type name Relationship type
EUNIS Habitat Classification 200711 E1.1 Inland sand and rock with open vegetation narrower
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