Red List habitat classification > RLE - Grasslands > RLE2.1a Mesic permanent pasture of lowlands and mountains

Mesic permanent pasture of lowlands and mountains

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLE2.1a
Threat status
Europe Vulnerable
EU Vulnerable
Relation to
Source European Red List habitat factsheet
European Red List of habitats reports
European Red List of habitats (Excel table)

Summary

These are mesotrophic pastures on deep, well-drained, mesic soils occurring very commonly throughout temperate Europe, though more restricted in mountains to warmer and more Continental regions. Such pastures are the basis of stock-rearing across much of Europe but the grazing regime varies greatly, from rather intensive to light, year-round or only in summer and may involve cattle, horses, sheep, goats or various combinations of these. Semi-wild herds of horses or cattle may also be used in extensively grazed areas and wild herbivores such as deer, rabbits and hares may be locally important.

Transitions to E2.2 Low and medium altitude hay-meadows can occur, especially where these have been subject to increased grazing in spring and late summer but, in contrast to mown grasslands on similar soils, these pastures contain numerous leaf rosette plants and a smaller contingent of slender, taller grasses and herbs. Flowering is less concentrated in late spring than for meadows, but spread through the growing season. In well-managed grasslands of this type, much of the herbage is palatable and nutritious.

These grasslands are typically characterized by the combination of Cynosurus cristatus, Bellis perennis, Trifolium repens and Lolium perenne in lowlands and montane areas, and Poa alpina and Leontodon hispidus in upper-montane to alpine areas with some associated vicariant species pairs in these respective ranges, like Phleum pratense vs. Phleum rhaeticum, Trifolium repens vs. Trifolium thalii and Poa pratensis vs. Poa alpina. Other regional sub-types are found in southern Europe where, because of the favourable climate, the grasslands can be both grazed and mown, with Agrostis castellana, Carum verticillatum, Linum bienne, Orchis coriophora and Gaudinia fragilis in the south-west and Hordeum bulbosum, Trifolium incarnatum ssp. molinerii and Vulpia ligustica in the central and southern Apennines. 

There are also variations related to soil differences. On calcareous soils Plantago media, Briza media, Sanguisorba minor and Galium verum indicate transitions towards calcareous grasslands (Habitat E1.2a Semi-dry perennial calcareous grassland), while in acidic, nutrient poor conditions transitions towards species-poor calcifuge grasslands (Habitat E1.7a Lowland to submontane Nardus grassland) indicated by Nardus stricta, Potentilla erecta, Danthonia decumbens and Hieracium pilosella. In boreal regions Galium boreale is an additional species, in alpine areas Gentiana bavarica, Gentiana nivalis, Nigritella nigra and Crocus species are found in this habitat and on moist, severely trampled situations in high mountains, Poa supina may dominate.

Indicators of good quality

  • Continuation of traditional grazing management

  • Diversity of species-rich examples in different regions

  • Presence of distinctive rare species

  • Presence of fungi indicative for “old grassland”

  • No increase of nutrients by fertilization addition or atmospheric nitrogen deposition

  • No overgrazing with spread of unpalatable weeds, like Rumex spp., Cirsium spp. Senecio spp.

  • No under-grazing with spread of palatable coarse grasses such as Arrheneatherum elatius

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

High quality expert opinion on decline in extent in recent historic time (A1) for a large majority of the countries confirms an assessment of Vulnerable, supported by an average long term loss (A3) reported for half the countries.
EU
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Vulnerable A1
Europe
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Vulnerable A1

Confidence in the assessment

medium
Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • Agriculture
    • Modification of cultivation practices
    • Agricultural intensification
    • Grassland removal for arable land
    • Grazing
    • Intensive grazing
    • Abandonment of pastoral systems, lack of grazing
  • Pollution
    • Air pollution, air-borne pollutants
    • Nitrogen-input

Habitat restoration potential

Restoration is more successful on pastures which still retain some measure of floristic diversity but, even where restoration is better, the wider fabric of traditional farming with its landscape-scale diversity, vernacular architecture, field names and festivals has often disintegrated.

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

Conservation of this habitat is directed towards maintaining as many of the traditional elements of farming practice as possible: appropriate levels of grazing and the use of only dung, urine, lime and mild phosphates as fertilisers. This usually means payments to farmers for income foregone since these days there is constant pressure to intensify stock production, or shift to arable cropping and various schemes of agri-environment funding have been implemented to administer this financial support. Where damaged, restoration aims, one way and another, to reinstate elements of traditional practice but is often hindered by the accumulated fertility (especially of bound phosphate) in the soils and by a wider shift to intensive farming led by market demand and subsidized by substantial incentives.

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to agriculture and open habitats
    • Maintaining grasslands and other open habitats

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)
Austria Present 4000 Stable Decreasing
Belgium Present 150-250 Decreasing Decreasing
Bulgaria Present Unknown Decreasing Increasing
Czech Republic Present 409 Decreasing Decreasing
Estonia Present 15 Decreasing Decreasing
France mainland Present 15000 Decreasing Decreasing
Germany Present Unknown Decreasing Decreasing
Hungary Present 1 Decreasing Decreasing
Italy mainland Present 851 Decreasing Decreasing
Netherlands Present 60 Decreasing Decreasing
Romania Present 350 Decreasing Decreasing
Slovakia Present 200 Decreasing Stable
United Kingdom Present 30 Decreasing Decreasing
Croatia Present 150 Decreasing Decreasing
Denmark Uncertain - -
Finland mainland Present 15 Decreasing Decreasing
Ireland Present 2300 Decreasing Decreasing
Latvia Present 90 Decreasing Decreasing
Lithuania Present 120-130 Decreasing Decreasing
Luxembourg Uncertain - -
Poland Present 4850 Decreasing Decreasing
Portugal mainland Present 63 Unknown Decreasing
Slovenia Uncertain - -
Spain mainland Present 6116 Decreasing Decreasing
Northern Island Present 30 Decreasing Decreasing
Sweden Uncertain - -
EU28 + Present or presence uncertain Current area of habitat (Km2) Recent trend in quantity (last 50 years) Recent trend in quality (last 50 years)
Switzerland Present 1800-2000 Decreasing Decreasing
Bosnia and Herzegovina Present 70 Decreasing Decreasing
Kosovo Present Unknown Decreasing Decreasing
Norway Mainland Present 281 Decreasing Decreasing

Extent of Occurrence, Area of Occupancy and habitat area

Extent of Occurrence (EOO) (Km2) Area of Occupancy (AOO) Current estimated Total Area Comment
EU28 5696600 2101 35795 Extent in Bulgaria, Germany and Belgium (Wallonia) unknown
EU28+ 2187 38046
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 millefolium
Flowering Plants Agrostis capillaris
Flowering Plants Agrostis castellana
Flowering Plants Alchemilla vulgaris
Flowering Plants Alchemilla xanthochlora
Flowering Plants Anthoxanthum odoratum
Flowering Plants Bellis perennis
Flowering Plants Briza media
Flowering Plants Carum verticillatum
Flowering Plants Cerastium fontanum
Flowering Plants Chamaemelum nobile
Flowering Plants Crepis aurea
Flowering Plants Crepis capillaris
Flowering Plants Cynosurus cristatus
Flowering Plants Danthonia decumbens
Flowering Plants Elymus repens
Flowering Plants Euphrasia rostkoviana
Flowering Plants Festuca pratensis
Flowering Plants Festuca rubra
Flowering Plants Galium boreale
Flowering Plants Galium verum
Flowering Plants Gaudinia fragilis
Flowering Plants Gentiana bavarica
Flowering Plants Gentiana nivalis
Flowering Plants Hieracium pilosella
Flowering Plants Holcus lanatus
Flowering Plants Hordeum bulbosum
Flowering Plants Hordeum secalinum
Flowering Plants Lathyrus pratensis
Flowering Plants Leontodon autumnalis
Flowering Plants Leontodon hispidus
Flowering Plants Leontodon saxatilis
Flowering Plants Leucanthemum vulgare
Flowering Plants Linum bienne
Flowering Plants Lolium perenne
Flowering Plants Lotus corniculatus
Flowering Plants Nardus stricta
Flowering Plants Nigritella nigra
Flowering Plants Orchis coriophora
Flowering Plants Phleum alpinum
Flowering Plants Phleum pratense
Flowering Plants Plantago alpina
Flowering Plants Plantago lanceolata
Flowering Plants Plantago major
Flowering Plants Plantago media
Flowering Plants Poa alpina
Flowering Plants Poa pratensis
Flowering Plants Poa supina
Flowering Plants Poa trivialis
Flowering Plants Potentilla erecta
Flowering Plants Prunella vulgaris
Flowering Plants Ranunculus bulbosus
Flowering Plants Ranunculus repens
Flowering Plants Rhinanthus minor
Flowering Plants Sanguisorba minor
Flowering Plants Trifolium badium
Flowering Plants Trifolium campestre
Flowering Plants Trifolium dubium
Flowering Plants Trifolium incarnatum
Flowering Plants Trifolium micranthum
Flowering Plants Trifolium pratense
Flowering Plants Trifolium repens
Flowering Plants Trifolium striatum
Flowering Plants Trifolium thalii
Flowering Plants Veronica serpyllifolia
Flowering Plants Vulpia ligustica
Species scientific name English common name Species group
Achillea millefolium Flowering Plants
Agrostis capillaris Flowering Plants
Agrostis castellana Flowering Plants
Alchemilla vulgaris Flowering Plants
Alchemilla xanthochlora Flowering Plants
Anthoxanthum odoratum Flowering Plants
Bellis perennis Flowering Plants
Briza media Flowering Plants
Carum verticillatum Flowering Plants
Cerastium fontanum Flowering Plants
Chamaemelum nobile Flowering Plants
Crepis aurea Flowering Plants
Crepis capillaris Flowering Plants
Cynosurus cristatus Flowering Plants
Danthonia decumbens Flowering Plants
Elymus repens Flowering Plants
Euphrasia rostkoviana Flowering Plants
Festuca pratensis Flowering Plants
Festuca rubra Flowering Plants
Galium boreale Flowering Plants
Galium verum Flowering Plants
Gaudinia fragilis Flowering Plants
Gentiana bavarica Flowering Plants
Gentiana nivalis Flowering Plants
Hieracium pilosella Flowering Plants
Holcus lanatus Flowering Plants
Hordeum bulbosum Flowering Plants
Hordeum secalinum Flowering Plants
Lathyrus pratensis Flowering Plants
Leontodon autumnalis Flowering Plants
Leontodon hispidus Flowering Plants
Leontodon saxatilis Flowering Plants
Leucanthemum vulgare Flowering Plants
Linum bienne Flowering Plants
Lolium perenne Flowering Plants
Lotus corniculatus Flowering Plants
Nardus stricta Flowering Plants
Nigritella nigra Flowering Plants
Orchis coriophora Flowering Plants
Phleum alpinum Flowering Plants
Phleum pratense Flowering Plants
Plantago alpina Flowering Plants
Plantago lanceolata Flowering Plants
Plantago major Flowering Plants
Plantago media Flowering Plants
Poa alpina Flowering Plants
Poa pratensis Flowering Plants
Poa supina Flowering Plants
Poa trivialis Flowering Plants
Potentilla erecta Flowering Plants
Prunella vulgaris Flowering Plants
Ranunculus bulbosus Flowering Plants
Ranunculus repens Flowering Plants
Rhinanthus minor Flowering Plants
Sanguisorba minor Flowering Plants
Trifolium badium Flowering Plants
Trifolium campestre Flowering Plants
Trifolium dubium Flowering Plants
Trifolium incarnatum Flowering Plants
Trifolium micranthum Flowering Plants
Trifolium pratense Flowering Plants
Trifolium repens Flowering Plants
Trifolium striatum Flowering Plants
Trifolium thalii Flowering Plants
Veronica serpyllifolia Flowering Plants
Vulpia ligustica 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 E2.1 Permanent mesotrophic pastures and aftermath-grazed meadows same
European Environment Agency (EEA)
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