Red List habitat classification > RLF - Heathland and scrub > RLF5.1 Mediterranean maquis and arborescent matorral

Mediterranean maquis and arborescent matorral

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLF5.1
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)


This habitat includes the evergreen sclerophyllous or lauriphyllous shrub vegetation with a more or less closed canopy structure (maquis), the low, sparse, garrigue-like silicicolous maquis of western Mediterranean, as well as the communities of low arborescent cover and with a usually thick, high evergreen shrub stratum, occurring in the Mediterranean biogeographical zone. Maquis and arborescent matorral may represent pre-forest communities, replacement stages of the climax forests, or permanent communities on xeric sites. High maquis includes scrub of Arbutus spp., Erica spp., Juniperus spp., Phillyrea spp. and low maquis includes communities of Cistus spp., Erica spp., Genista spp., Lavandula spp. Primary matorral occurs on ecologically marginal sites, but more often this habitat is derived from degraded broad-leaved evergreen, thermophillous deciduous or conifer forests. Juniperus spp., Ziziphus spp., Laurus nobilis and Quercus coccifera may codominate. The habitat includes a broad variety of plant communities and so, it does not exhibit any specific ecological preference. It mostly occurs in the thermo- to meso-Mediterranean belts but it extends from the intermediate between tropical and Mediterranean zones (scrub steppes of the arid Iberian, North Africa, Anatolia and central Cyprus) to the supra-Mediterranean zone (Cistus ladanifer shrublands of the Iberian peninsula and southern France). The habitat does not show any relationship with one specific substrate and it is found on acid (e.g. Ericion arboreae; Arbuto unedonis-Laurion nobilis), decalcified (e.g. Cistus laurifolius maquis) and alkaline soils. Grazing and fire are two of the most influential factors shaping the habitat’s physiognomy, acting at varying and usually contradictive ways. Cistus monspeliensis maquis can be favoured from fire events and may dominate the landscape after fires. On the other hand, fire in Juniperus ssp. arborescent matorrals can be a big threat to the habitat due to the low resistance to and poor recovery from fire of Juniperus species. With increasing summer aridity and human pressure, maquis resembles to garrigues as they become low and sparse. Moreover low, garrigues-like maquis are rather frequent in fire-prone regions. This habitat, besides the primary, edaphic- or climatic-controlled stands at marginal sites, has a strong plagioclimax character and so, its occurrence and quality mainly depends on the occurrence of low to intermediate disturbances at an acceptable periodicity.

Indicators of quality:

  • Dense horizontal and vertical vegetation structure
  • No indication of overgrazing 
  • Absence of active secondary succession towards forest ecosystems (absence of trees)
  • Absence of grass encroachment
  • Species richness of the stands
  • Absence of invasive species
  • Absence or low cover of ruderal species

Low levels of soil compactness, well developed Ah soil horizon and  are good indicators of absence of over grazing that can result to degradation towards garrigues. On the other hand, the level of tree and grass encroachment and, generally, presence and abundance of a given set of typical species or functional traits (i.e. morphological, physiological and life history characteristics) can be used as proxy indicators of biodiversity levels and succession stage. Absence of invasive and/or ruderal taxa should be also considered as indication of good habitat quality.

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

The habitat qualifies for the Least Concern (LC) category because it has an extensive distribution across the Mediterranean biogeographical zones, the reduction in quantity over the past 50 years has been very small (in fact in most areas the habitat area has been stable), and the decline in quality over the same period was slight to moderate affecting only a small part (9%) of the extent.
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

  • Sylviculture, forestry
    • Forest and Plantation management & use
    • Forestry clearance
    • Removal of forest undergrowth
    • Grazing in forests/ woodland
  • Transportation and service corridors
    • Roads, paths and railroads
  • Natural System modifications
    • Fire and fire suppression
    • Burning down
  • Natural biotic and abiotic processes (without catastrophes)
    • Biocenotic evolution, succession

Habitat restoration potential

The habitat can restore naturally without any human intervention, even in short time periods.

Trends in extent

Average current trend in quantity

Stable Unknown
EU28 EU28+

Trends in quality

Average current trend in quality

Stable Unknown
EU28 EU28+

Conservation and management needs

In most cases no management measures are needed or (to be accurate) is possible to be implemented. However, especially when the habitat occurs within a protected area of the Natura 2000 network or under another designated protection status, it would be possible to monitor and control the grazing intensity, as well as the cutting of shrubs and low trees (for fire wood) and in some cases the forest clearance. The level of tree and grass penetration and, generally, the presence and abundance of a given set of typical species or functional traits (i.e. morphological, physiological and life history characteristics) that can be used as proxy indicators of biodiversity levels and succession stage could be set as conservation objectives and certain measures to restore or improve these tall scrub habitats could be designed and implemented.

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to forests and wooded habitats
    • Restoring/Improving forest habitats
    • Adapt forest management
  • 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 184 Stable Increasing
Croatia Present 1208 Stable Increasing
Cyprus Present 56 Increasing Stable
France mainland Present 218 Stable Stable
Greece (mainland and other islands) Present 643 Increasing Stable
Crete Present 643 Increasing Stable
East Aegean Present 643 Increasing Stable
Italy mainland Present 2205 Unknown Stable
Sardinia Present 2205 Unknown Stable
Sicily Present 2205 Unknown Stable
Portugal mainland Present 19 Unknown Decreasing
Corsica Present 218 Stable Stable
Malta Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Spain mainland Present 4990 Stable Stable
Balearic Islands Present 4990 Stable 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 20 Decreasing Decreasing
Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Albania Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Montenegro Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Serbia Present Unknown Unknown Unknown

Extent of Occurrence, Area of Occupancy and habitat area

Extent of Occurrence (EOO) (Km2) Area of Occupancy (AOO) Current estimated Total Area Comment
EU28 3934300 3553 9523 Based on the existing data provided from EU Member States. This number is partially representing the current actual total area.
EU28+ 3575 >9523 No quantitative data exist for the EU 28+ countries. We have only the current estimated area in Bosnia & Herzegovina
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
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