Red List habitat classification > RLF - Heathland and scrub > RLF6.1a Western basiphilous garrigue

Western basiphilous garrigue

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLF6.1a
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)


Scrub vegetation dominated by xerophytic chamaephytes, mostly of cushion-shaped, nano-phanerophytes and sometimes tuffed perennial grasses and hemicryptophytes, on shallow or eroded soils derived from rocks with alkaline reaction of the western Mediterranean subregion. Common substrata are limestone (calcium carbonate rich), dolomitic (magnesium carbonate rich) and ultramafic rocks with alkaline reaction. The habitat type F6.1a is, in most cases, seral vegetation stage following degradation of zonal forests distributed from the thermo to meso-mediterranean, seldom to the low supra-mediterranean, semi-arid to sub-humid vegetation belts. In rocky outcrops or crests it may have a permanent character and form the climax vegetation. Also in semi-arid regions, such as those in the Murcia-Almerian province, it may stand as permanent vegetation in large areas.

The habitat is frequently dominated by shrubs of the families Labiatae and Fabaceae of neomediterranean character. It comprises a broad diversity of plant communities, especially in Spain, and includes many local endemic taxa, thus having a high conservation value. This vegetation has historically expanded its area due to soil erosion after the destruction of woodlands for agriculture and cattle grazing. It may also be promoted by wildfires, as most plants are R-strategist seeders and fire-prone. The biogeographic and bioclimatic variability allows the recognition of three subgroups (vegetation orders): Rosmarinetalia (dry to subhumid central and west Iberian limestone), Antyllidetalia terniflorae (semi-arid limestone and marl Murcia-Almerian province) and Convolvuletalia boissieri (dolomite and ultramafic), containing in total thirteen alliances.

As basiphilous garrigues have enormous syntaxonomic and floristic diversity in the western Mediterranean, some degree of interpretation is needed. We follow the concept of Mucina et al. (2014) with several modifications. The core concept is that of chamaephyte- and nano- phanerophyte-dominated scrub on eroded or thin soils in substrata with alkaline reaction, either derived from limestone, dolomitic (rich in magnesium carbonate)  or sometimes ultramafic rock, in thermo-mediterranean and meso-mediterranean belts. The vegetation corresponds to a large part of the class Rosmarinetea officinalis (in the sense of Rivas-Martínez et al., 1991, = Ononido-Rosmarinetea in Mucina et al.) and mostly to the widespread dry to sub-humid order Rosmarinetalia. Also the semi-arid limestone communities of the Murcia-Almerian province (order Anthyllidetalia terniflorae) are included. Gypsum communities (order Gipsophylletalia) are excluded (included in F6.7), but magnesium-prone ones are included (order Convolvuletalia boissieri). The equivalent habitats in west european calcareous mountains, mostly in supra and oro-mediterranean thermotypes, sometimes in sub-mediterranean temperate bioclimate are excluded and systematized in F6.6, F6.7 and F7.4. By the same reasoning all hedgehog heath (order Erinacetalia anthylis) is excluded and belongs to F7.4. The following syntaxa, in many cases ascribed to Rosmarinetea are thus excluded from F6.1a: Erysimo-Jurinetalia bocconei (F7.4b), Festuco-Ononidetalia striatae (F74.a). Also, not following Mucina et al., mountain garrigues of the following alliances are excluded: Polygalo-Genistion corsicae, Helianthemo-Aphyllantion monspeliensis (F6.6), Alyssion bertolonii (F7.4a), Artemisio albae-Saturejion montanae (F7.4a), Lavandulo latifoliae-Genistion (Echinospartion) boissieri (F6.6), Siderito incanae-Salvio lavandulifoliae (F6.6). However Cisto eriocephali-Ericion multiflorae is included to stand for an Italo- Thyrrenean irradiation of the east-mediterranean Cisto-Micromerietea class or otherwise considered in Rosmarinetea (West Mediterranean). Garrigues in limestone sea-cliffs (order Helichrysetalia italici) are excluded and classifiable in either F7.1-2 (west Mediterranean coastal garrigues) or B3.1-3b (Mediterranean and Black Sea rocky shores).

Indicators of good quality:

Apart from  the primary ecological niches of the habitat  (crests and rocky outcrops), it’s presence is s dependent on disturbances of low to moderate degree;  otherwise, it is expected to  be substituded along the  succession process by  forest communities. Although such processes are slow or even ‘locked’ by persistence of disturbance or feeble water capacity, the whole mosaic of garrigues and other habitats (grasslands, forests) in dry sub-humid types with shallow soils should be balanced by active management (burning or traditional agriculture and grazing). At its permanent positions on  rock crests no management is required for the conservation of the habitat. Species rich, “saturated” variations of the habitat need the emphasis to be given on conservation, while  the species-poor pioneer stages  are of lower conservation value but potentially these evolve into more species rich communities.. Another indicator of the habitat’s good quality is the presence of the majority of its local characteristic species.

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

A stable or a very slight reduction in quantity and quality since the last 50 year, mostly due to vegetation succession as a result of the land abandonment, result in a Least Concern (LC) assessment. The future prospects for the habitat are also assessed as stable both in the EU28 and EU28+ countries. In spite of the habitat’s abundant occurrence and the absence of relevant threats, the wide local variation of the habitat type should be taken into account when designing and implementing management practices. The habitat is very species-rich and contains many narrow endemics amongst which many threatened species.
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

  • Agriculture
    • Agricultural intensification
  • Sylviculture, forestry
    • Artificial planting on open ground (non-native trees)
  • Urbanisation, residential and commercial development
    • Discontinuous urbanisation
  • Natural System modifications
    • Lack of fires
  • Natural biotic and abiotic processes (without catastrophes)
    • Species composition change (succession)

Habitat restoration potential

The habitat is a meta-stable successional stage following agricultural abandonment, long fallow period or a time period between wildfires. If succession is allowed, it is expected that after a period of 10 to 20 years, a species 'saturated' stage (beyond the pioneer stages) could be achieved and kept stable for a long while. Afterwards, in soils less shallow, the vegetation succession is expected to progress to pre-forest/forest stages.

Trends in extent

Average current trend in quantity

Stable Stable
EU28 EU28+

Trends in quality

Average current trend in quality

Stable Stable
EU28 EU28+

Conservation and management needs

For best conservation management measures and results, the maintenance of a balanced proportion of low-intensity agriculture with long fallow periods (by implementing agro-environmental policies) is suggested.
When designing management meaures in the context of local and regional policies, the local and regional variants of the habitat type (F6.1b) with the possible peculiarities in species and endemic/rare/threatened species composition should be taken in account.. The most effective way of implementing different conservation measures depending on the conservation value of the different sub-types of the same habitat type is to use their species composition for different legal conservation status and actions.
Micro-reserves or other designation regimes sites network could safeguard, , even in agricultural territories, the preservation of all the constituent flora species and mature status of the habitat. The short fallow periods implie that habitats are always kept in early succession stages characterized by a low number of species (pioneer species). In conservation oriented agricultural land, i.e. managed to include also conservation objectives, the maintenance of a proportion of land with longer fallow period (thus allowing succession and species saturation of the habitat) is suggested.

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to agriculture and open habitats
    • Other agriculture-related measures
  • Measures related to spatial planning
    • Establish protected areas/sites
    • Establishing wilderness areas/allowing succession
    • Legal protection of habitats and species


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)
France mainland Present unknown Unknown Unknown
Corsica Present unknown Unknown Unknown
Italy mainland Present 2811 Decreasing Stable
Sardinia Present 2811 Decreasing Stable
Sicily Present 2811 Decreasing Stable
Portugal mainland Present 59 Unknown Increasing
Spain mainland Present 6105 Decreasing Decreasing
Balearic Islands Present 6105 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)

Extent of Occurrence, Area of Occupancy and habitat area

Extent of Occurrence (EOO) (Km2) Area of Occupancy (AOO) Current estimated Total Area Comment
EU28 402000 1056 8883
EU28+ 1056 8883
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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