Red List habitat classification > RLE - Grasslands > RLE5.2a Thermophilous woodland fringe of base-rich soils

Thermophilous woodland fringe of base-rich soils

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLE5.2a
Threat status
Europe Near Threatened
EU Least concern
Relation to
Source European Red List habitat factsheet
European Red List of habitats reports
European Red List of habitats (Excel table)


In the transitional zone between the open landscape and forests, habitats can be found that are characterized by a distinct species composition. Generally, two formations can be distinguished: one determined by shrubs, called mantle, and one – closer to the open landscape – built up by (tall) herbs and grasses, called fringe. Thus, fringe communities appear as a narrow belt along forests, but they also occur along scrublands and other formations. Even in the open landscape, e.g. along cliffs. In comparison with the generally rather species poor mantle communities, fringe communities are often harboring a large set of – colorful – flowers. This especially applies to the baserich soils, to which the heliophilous and thermophilous communities of Habitat type E5.2a are confined. Another prerequisite is a limited amount of nutrients; otherwise, the vegetation transforms into nitrophilous tall forb communities. The diagnostic species are adapted to the half-shadow conditions under the branches of trees and scrubs, but the small contact zone between the forest and the open landscape gives also room to the occurrence of species of these neighbouring formations. And this partly explains the species richness of the habitat.

In the subatlantic parts of Europe, fringes generally border mesophilous forests of the class Carpino-Fagetea sylvaticae. In the zone of thermophilous deciduous forest (Quercetea pubescentis), with relatively open canopy, most of the fringe species can also be found inside the forest communities. Fringe communities have developed through millennia of human activities. From a landscape ecological point of view, they may protect forests against unwanted effects from the open landscape, like the input of nutrients from agricultural land. Fringes provide important habitats for various animal groups, including birds and insects. Thermophile woodland fringes of baserich soils can be found in large parts of Europe. In Southern and Southeastern Europe, they also can be found in mountainous areas, but in the Northwestern parts of Europe, they are restricted to lowlands. Transitional zones are generally in need of well-balanced human activities, as changes in the neighboring formations (forest on the one side, open landscape on the other side) directly affects the quality of the fringe communities.

Indicators of good quality:

  • Species richness
  • Periodical cutting or grazing, protecting encroachment of the habitat by shrubs and trees
  • Absence of woody species
  • Absence of invasive species
  • Low input of nutrients

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

This habitat type is neither threatened in EU28 nor in EU28+, but the decline in the EU28+ is close to the Vulnerable threshold and therefore qualifies as Near Threatened (NT). However, the trend calculation is based on data from relatively few countries. The calculated figures for trends in quality over the last 50 years as well as the relatively large extent of occurrence and area of occupancy result in the Least Concern (LC) category.
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Least concern -
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Near Threatened A1

Confidence in the assessment

Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • Agriculture
    • Agricultural intensification
    • Intensive grazing
    • Fertilisation
    • Removal of hedges and copses or scrub
  • Urbanisation, residential and commercial development
    • Continuous urbanisation

Habitat restoration potential

Extensive grazing and/or mowing are prerequisites for this habitat type. The maintenance of this habitat type is a matter of balance and depends on an appropriate management regime: when the sites are overgrown with shrubs and trees, these woody plants have to be removed. In intensively used landscapes, a reduction of fertilisation is needed. As the habitat type harbours a large number of rare species, the management of the sites needs full attention.

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

Fringe communities per definition are vulnerable as they depend on gradients in the landscape, which can be temporal or spatial. Changes in land use therefore always have an effect on such communities. On the one hand, intensification of land use will lead to direct losses, on the other hand abandoning of grazing and mowing systems may lead to an increase of the habitat (although only for a certain period, as succession will go on, gradually transforming the fringe communities into shrubland and woodland).

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to agriculture and open habitats
    • Maintaining grasslands and other open habitats
  • Measures related to forests and wooded habitats
    • Restoring/Improving forest habitats
  • Measures related to spatial planning
    • 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)
Bulgaria Present Stable Increasing
France mainland Present Unknown Increasing
Germany Present Decreasing Increasing
Hungary Present 10 Stable Unknown
Slovakia Present 4 Decreasing Increasing
Austria Present 4 Decreasing Decreasing
Belgium Present Unknown Unknown
Croatia Present 40 Stable Stable
Czech Republic Present 6 Stable Decreasing
Italy mainland Present 98 Decreasing Increasing
Latvia Present 3 Unknown Unknown
Lithuania Present 5 Unknown Stable
Netherlands Present 1 Decreasing Stable
Poland Present 11 Decreasing Unknown
Portugal mainland Present 6 Unknown Increasing
Romania Present 1 Decreasing Decreasing
Spain mainland Present 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)
Bosnia and Herzegovina Present 30 Decreasing Decreasing
Kosovo Present Stable Increasing
Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Present Unknown Unknown
Switzerland Present 33 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 >50000 >50 190 Some important countries are lacking data: e.g. Bulgaria, France, Germany, Spain.
EU28+ >50 253 Some important countries are lacking data: e.g. Bulgaria, France, Germany, Spain, Macedonia, Kosovo.
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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