Red List habitat classification > RLE - Grasslands > RLE3.5 Temperate and boreal moist or wet oligotrophic grassland

Temperate and boreal moist or wet oligotrophic grassland

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLE3.5
Threat status
Europe Endangered
EU Endangered
Relation to
Source European Red List habitat factsheet
European Red List of habitats reports
European Red List of habitats (Excel table)


This habitat comprises meadows on nutrient-poor soils (both in nitrogen and phosphorus) that are wet during a large part of the year, but superficially may dry out in summer. This especially refers to the more continental regions of its distribution range. In spring, the sites are not flooded, which distinguishes these meadows from floodplain meadows belonging to habitat E3.4 (Moist or wet mesotrophic to eutrophic hay meadows). Due to their relatively low productivity, these grasslands are mown only ones a year, usually late in the season (July, August). The grasses Molinia caerulea and Molinia arundinacea quite often dominate these rather species-rich communities. Both Molinia species may form tussocks, up to 50 cm tall, but – especially in the more Atlantic regions – Molinia (caerulea) is sometimes less conspicuous and integrates more with other plant species in the stands. Companions are low-productive species of intermittently wet soils that generally also can be found in open forests. Some of the rather striking tall herbs may provide the vegetation a splendid sight in mid-summer. In the western part of its distribution range, the more peaty appearance of the communities goes along with the frequent occurence of sedges (like Carex nigra and Carex panicea) and rushes (like Juncus acutiflorus and Juncus conglomeratus); here the communities are sometimes grazed. In syntaxonomic literature, these grasslands are often described as distinct alliances (Junco-Molinion and/or Juncion acutiflorae). The habitat may occur from the lowlands up to the (sub)montane areas. The pH varies from more or less acidic to calcareous, with calcium carbonate as an important chemical compound. In fen-meadows, the peaty soils may temper the effect of the fluctuating water tables. When the water fluctuations become too intense, other species may take over, like Juncus effusus.

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

  • High richness in herb species;
  • Long-term habitat stability;
  • Extensive management regime aimed at long-term continuation of yearly mowing, prohibiting a succesion towards woodland;
  • Complex landscape setting, with fens or other kinds of mire vegetation on the one hand and drier grasslands on the other.

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

Based on a reduction in quantity over the past 50 years, this habitat type is Endangered (EN) both in EU28 and EU28+ (EN). Furthermore, a substantial reduction in biotic and abiotic quality results in a Vulnerable status (VU).
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Endangered A1
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Endangered A1

Confidence in the assessment

Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • Agriculture
    • Agricultural intensification
    • Abandonment / Lack of  mowing
  • Urbanisation, residential and commercial development
    • Urbanised areas, human habitation
  • Natural System modifications
    • Landfill, land reclamation and drying out, general
    • Modification of hydrographic functioning, general

Habitat restoration potential

The habitat type needs human intervention for restoration, by re-introducing traditional mowing regimes and improving the hydrological conditions. The latter may take a relatively long period to become effective. The presence of relict populations of key species is crucial for success on the short term.

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 of traditional hay making and safeguarding the appropriate hydrological conditions, both on site and landscape level, are the key factors for conserving this habitat type.

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to agriculture and open habitats
    • Maintaining grasslands and other open habitats
  • Measures related to wetland, freshwater and coastal habitats
    • Restoring/Improving the hydrological regime
  • 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)
Austria Present 125 Decreasing Decreasing
Belgium Present 3.2 Decreasing Decreasing
Bulgaria Present 3.8 Decreasing Decreasing
Czech Republic Present 84 Decreasing Decreasing
Croatia Present 20 Decreasing Decreasing
Denmark Present 70 Decreasing Decreasing
Estonia Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Finland mainland Present 0.3 Decreasing Decreasing
Aland Islands Present 0.3 Decreasing Decreasing
France mainland Present 200 Decreasing Decreasing
Germany Present 100 Decreasing Decreasing
Hungary Present 90 Decreasing Decreasing
Ireland Present 8.5 Decreasing Decreasing
Italy mainland Present 82 Decreasing Decreasing
Lithuania Present 10 Decreasing Decreasing
Luxembourg Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Netherlands Present 3 Decreasing Decreasing
Poland Present 251 Decreasing Decreasing
Portugal mainland Present 26 Unknown Decreasing
Romania Present 37 Decreasing Decreasing
Slovakia Present 5.3 Decreasing Decreasing
Slovenia Present 70 Decreasing Decreasing
Spain mainland Present 22 Decreasing Decreasing
Sweden Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
United Kingdom Present 36 Decreasing Decreasing
Northern Island Present 36 Decreasing Decreasing
Latvia Present 16 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)
Albania Uncertain - -
Bosnia and Herzegovina Present 5 Decreasing Decreasing
Iceland Uncertain - -
Kaliningrad Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Kosovo Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Montenegro Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Norway Mainland Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Serbia Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Switzerland Present 100 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 6528650 10343 1263
EU28+ 10377 1368
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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