Red List habitat classification > RLE - Grasslands > RLE1.1j Dry steppic, submediterranean pasture of South-Eastern Europe

Dry steppic, submediterranean pasture of South-Eastern Europe

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLE1.1j
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)


This habitat type is composed of dry steppic, submediterranean pastures, found along the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea and the southeastern coastal districts of the Italian Peninsula. These semi-natural grasslands appear in the meso/supra-Mediterranean and Mediterranean-montane vegetation belts, where the zonal vegetation is represented by thermophilous deciduous forest, dominated by Quercus pubescens s.l., Ostrya carpinifolia and Carpinus orientalis, or locally (especially in Italy) by evergreen forests dominated by Quercus ilex. As the mountain chains extend parallel to the coastline, the climatic influence does not penetrate deeply into the inland regions of the Balkan Peninsula. The climate shows two peaks of precipitation during the year, with the main peak appearing in autumn (November) and a second peak in spring (May). The amount of precipitation can be very fluctuating and vary up to 3000 mm on mountain barriers. However, even when precipitation is relatively high, the water flows mainly underground due to the nature of the bedrock, which is mainly composed of carbonate. Due to the lack of precipitation and the high temperature reached during the summer, the vegetation suffers from drought during these months. Winters are mild, with temperatures that do not drop much below freezing.

Since the bedrock generally lies close to the surface, these habitats are characterized by many chamaephytes and can be used only as pastures. Sometimes the carbonate bedrock is substituted by “flysch” marls (terra rossa) and sandstones. The morphology of this habitat is characterized by valleys, dolinas and sink-holes with depositional soils and clay from decalcification at the bottom.

Two habitat subtypes may be distinguished based on their biogeographic distribution, which correspond to two alliances: Chrysopogono-Saturejion subspicatae for the Balkan Peninsula, and Hippocrepido glaucae-Stipion austroitalicae, which is endemic to southeastern Italy. The latter refers to steppe grasslands with the endemic species Stipa austroitalica.

This habitat type is the result of a long time of human influence. After the Second World War, abandonment of this habitat begun. Firstly, only the less productive pastures were abandoned, but later also other examples of this grasslands were not managed anymore. Nowadays, a mosaic with various stages of scrub encroachment is found. Succession towards forests begins with high stalk plants (e.g. Umbelliferaea) and scrub species (e.g. Cotinus coggygria). In order to maintain these habitats, traditional management (grazing, mowing) should be continued. In early successional stages, restoration is relatively easy by introduction of livestock. However, livestock intensification leads to the destruction of the habitat, so animal numbers should not be too high. In certain sites, this habitat is affected by urbanization.

Indicators of good quality:

  • Species richness of the grasslands and presence of character species
  • Absence of invasive species
  • Absence of high tall herbs, shrubs and trees
  • Regular grazing/mowing
  • Absence of intensive grazing

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

The habitat is assessed as Vulnerable (VU) in the EU28 based on the Criterion C/D1, and as Near Threatened (NT) in EU28+, based on Criteria A1 and C/D1. The reduction in biotic/abiotic quality over the last 50 years affected on average 50% of the EU28 and 48% of the EU28+ distribution, with a relative severity of 75%. The reduction in quantity in the last 50 years was of 28% in EU28 and 27% in EU28+, qualifying this habitat in both cases as Near Threatenend under Criterion A1.
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Vulnerable C/D1
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Near Threatened A1, C/D1

Confidence in the assessment

Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • Agriculture
    • Agricultural intensification
    • Intensive grazing
    • Abandonment of pastoral systems, lack of grazing
  • Urbanisation, residential and commercial development
    • Urbanised areas, human habitation
  • Natural biotic and abiotic processes (without catastrophes)
    • Biocenotic evolution, succession
    • Species composition change (succession)
  • Climate change
    • Droughts and less precipitations

Habitat restoration potential

This habitat is characterised by dry, shallow and rocky soils. The successional process consequent to the abandonment could have affected the soil condition, thus it may require a longer period for the re-establishment of the typical flora now, even after the mechanical removal of the shrubs. Better results can be expected when adopting the traditional land-use practices based on extensive grazing.

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

Continuation, promotion and in many cases reintroduction of the traditional pastoral managing systems (including grazing and mowing) are the most effective ways to maintain this habitat type. During the last 50 years, a large amount of these areas have been progressively abandoned because of their poor productivity, causing a strong development of scrub and woody vegetation. In early successional stages restoration is relatively easy by introduction of livestock, but when the successional processes have acted for a long time, the conservation measures should include the mechanical eradication of the shrubs, before being used again as extensive pastures. It should also be considered that the intensification of livestock leads to the destruction of the habitat, so the number of animal individuals should not be too high. In some sites the habitat is threatened by urbanization.

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
    • Manage landscape features


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)
Croatia Present 2,518 Decreasing Decreasing
Greece (mainland and other islands) Present 505 Stable Stable
Crete Uncertain 505 Stable Stable
East Aegean Uncertain 505 Stable Stable
Italy mainland Present 989 Decreasing Decreasing
Slovenia Present 150 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)
Bosnia and Herzegovina Present 60 Decreasing Decreasing
Albania Present 90 Decreasing Decreasing
Kosovo Uncertain Unknown Unknown
Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Uncertain Unknown Unknown
Montenegro Uncertain Unknown Unknown
Serbia Uncertain 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 158550 252 4165
EU28+ 326 4315
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)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Phone: +45 3336 7100