Red List habitat classification > RLE - Grasslands > RLE7.2 Hemiboreal and boreal wooded pasture and meadow

Hemiboreal and boreal wooded pasture and meadow

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLE7.2
Threat status
Europe Critically EndangeredR
EU Critically EndangeredR
Relation to
Source European Red List habitat factsheet
European Red List of habitats reports
European Red List of habitats (Excel table)


These are open wooded landscapes of lowlands, hills and mountains of northern Europe, created and maintained to a significant degree through traditional grazing, hay-making and woodland (tree) management, mainly by pollarding. Variation in land use and disturbance regime as well as in their abiotic environment make wooded pastures very diverse and dynamic. The species composition and structure are strongly influenced by the conscious management by the owner/herder. Traditional wooded pastures express part of the local social and economic history and are therefore of considerable cultural significance and are considered as high nature value farmland areas. These are threatened by various factors, most of them related to land-use change (abandonment due to lack of grazing or hay-making, and tree cutting because of CAP rules, e.g. trees with higher than 3 meter crone diameter are not regarded as pasture).

The hemi-boreal and boreal wooded pastures and meadows occur in Fennoscandia and in Estonia. They are grazed mainly by cattle and sheep. The type also includes (particularly in Finland) deciduous forests established after slash-and-burn cultivation, that was a characteristic feature of the former land use in Finland. Wooded meadows were once abundant in northern Europe. The most common type of the wooded meadows are Kratt wood and deciduous leaf meadows. Wooded meadows are among the most diverse habitats of Europe. Some of the current wooded meadows in Estonia are amongst ecosystems with the world record in plant species diversity (up to 76 species of vascular plants on a square meter). However, not all occurrences of the habitat type are particularly rich in species.

Characteristic plant species of the canopy layer include Betula spp., Quercus robur, Fagus sylvatica, Tilia cordata, Alnus incana, Corylus avellana and conifers (Pinus sylvestris, Picea abies). The canopy cover typically varies between 10 and 35 %, and in the field layer meadow-like vegetation is more abundant compared to forest vegetation. Old, large oaks also occur in some pastures. Typically the shrub layer is missing or scarce, but Juniperus communis is rather common. Dominant plant species of the herb layer include graminoids like Agrostis capillaris, Deschampsia spp., Festuca ovina, Luzula campestris and Poa pratensis, and herbs like Alchemilla spp., Fragaria vesca, Geranium sylvaticum and Trifolium repens. The species composition is a mixture of meadow and forest species and therefore includes also many fringe species. Typical forest species are among others Vaccinium myrtillus, Anemone nemorosa and Maianthemum bifolium. Epiphytes may form an important added value, especially if there is oak, ash, elm or maple present among the trees.

Indicators of quality:

High presence and abundance of old-growth, veteran trees; Presence and abundance of epiphytes lichens; Forest regrowth, shrub encroachment, forest succession decrease the quality through the loss of the typical physiognomy; No land-use abandonment (e.g. high enough grazing pressure); No land-use intensification (e.g. too high livestock densities or fertilization); No spread of any non-native species  from planted stock or naturally invasive sources.

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

The habitat is Critically Endangered (CR) as both quantity and quality decreased by >80% over the last 50 years.
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Critically EndangeredR A1, C/D1
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Critically EndangeredR A1, C/D1

Confidence in the assessment

Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • Agriculture
    • Abandonment / Lack of  mowing
    • Abandonment of pastoral systems, lack of grazing
  • Sylviculture, forestry
    • Forest planting on open ground (native trees)
  • Urbanisation, residential and commercial development
    • Urbanised areas, human habitation
  • Natural biotic and abiotic processes (without catastrophes)
    • Biocenotic evolution, succession

Habitat restoration potential

The habitat has a high capacity to recover if mowing, grazing and human (tree) management is reintroduced. If abandoned, there is no regeneration as areas turn quickly into forest. For extremely species-rich examples of the habitat it may take a long time to recover, as the diversity is the result of a long-term stable management.

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

Wood pastures and wood meadows have a combined exploitation system. Modern agriculture has started to erode these habitats as they are not so productive in the short term. Conservation management should focus on the maintenance of traditional use or on reintroducing new ways of mowing and grazing. Old trees should be protected as they provide habitat for many rare species.

List of conservation and management needs

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


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)
Estonia Present 58 Decreasing Decreasing
Finland mainland Present 34 Decreasing Decreasing
Latvia Present 11.6 Decreasing Decreasing
Lithuania Present Dec-15 Decreasing Decreasing
Sweden Present 696 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)
Norway Mainland Present 500 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 1317050 4024 813
EU28+ 4024 1313 AOO and EOO lack Norwegian data
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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