Red List habitat classification > RLE - Grasslands > RLE1.5b Iberian oromediterranean basiphilous dry grassland

Iberian oromediterranean basiphilous dry grassland

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLE1.5b
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)


Dwarf vegetation composed of hard leaved grasses (Festuca, Koeleria) and other ligneous plants which form a grassy scrub on calcareous thin rocky soils. Depending on the association involved, the grassland-scrub can be dominated by grasses (Festuca sp. pl.), or by other ligneous plants. The vegetation completely covers the soil surface or leaves up to 40 % of bare soil, depending on the rocky character of the soil, but also on the freezing-thawing cycle (geliturbation, gelifluction) which takes place in this habitat.

The habitat type is found in Mediterranean mountains, at upper supra-oro-cryoro levels, of the Iberian Peninsula, Pyrenees, French Massif Central and Alps Maritimes - Ligurian Alps, between 1300 to 2500 m. Here the grasslands are found under submediterranean high mountain climatic conditions, with a short summer drought, and severe low winter temperatures, as they are poorly protected by snow (they are covered by a thin layer of snow or even remain snow-free in winter).

The habitat is very rich in endemic species, probably due to its calcareous soils and its extreme environmental conditions. Succession towards taller vegetation types is prevented by extreme environmental conditions in the higher altitudes, where those grasslands are often climax communities. At lower altitudes (supra levels) encroachment by shrubs is easier, due to the more mesic conditions and this vegetation may be replaced by succession. The habitat can endure a light grazing pressure (usually sheep) without altering its structure and composition and it used to be grazed in summer during the short growing season.

Indicators of good quality:

The following characteristics may be considered as indicators of good quality:

·      High species richness

·      Presence of endemic species

·      A medium to high vegetation cover

·      Absence of nitrophilic species, linked to human activities

·      No visible anthropic disturbances due to building activities, skiing or intensive trampling

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

The habitat is assigned to the category Least Concern (LC), as it has not substantially decreased in quantity nor in quality over the last 50 years, and its distribution (AOO) and range (EOO) are quite large. Nevertheless, we have to take into account that inside this EOO, the habitat only occurs in wind-exposed slopes of the calcareous mountains and plateaus, with a current estimated total area of only 725 km2.
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
    • Grazing
    • Intensive sheep grazing
    • Abandonment of pastoral systems, lack of grazing
  • Sylviculture, forestry
    • Forest planting on open ground
    • Artificial planting on open ground (non-native trees)
  • Human intrusions and disturbances
    • Sport and leisure structures
    • Skiing complex
  • Natural System modifications
    • Fire and fire suppression

Habitat restoration potential

In the higher elevations, the extreme climatic conditions make it very difficult the recovery of the habitat once it has been seriously damaged. If damage is related to soil erosion due to intense trampling, the habitat needs a long time to recover, which can be facilitated through human intervention. If damage is related to climate change and consequent invasion of species from loweraltitudes, the diagnostic species will dissapear in the long term and thus future recovery of the habitat will not be possible.

Trends in extent

Average current trend in quantity

Stable Stable
EU28 EU28+

Trends in quality

Average current trend in quality

Decreasing Decreasing
EU28 EU28+

Conservation and management needs

The conservation of this habitat involves the maintenance of low intensity sheep grazing and the minimization of the impact of leisure activities. The disturbance created by the latter can facilitate the arrival of ruderal species, which is also facilitated by changing climatic conditions. Plantation of conifers should be avoided.

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)
France mainland Present 257 Decreasing Stable
Italy mainland Present Unknown Decreasing Decreasing
Spain mainland Present 468 Unknown Stable
EU28 + Present or presence uncertain Current area of habitat (Km2) Recent trend in quantity (last 50 years) Recent trend in quality (last 50 years)

Extent of Occurrence, Area of Occupancy and habitat area

Extent of Occurrence (EOO) (Km2) Area of Occupancy (AOO) Current estimated Total Area Comment
EU28 293300 245 725 No quantitative data from Italy
EU28+ 245 725
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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