Red List habitat classification > RLF - Heathland and scrub > RLF9.2 Salix fen scrub

Salix fen scrub

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLF9.2
Threat status
Europe Near threatened
EU Near threatened
Relation to
Source European Red List habitat factsheet
European Red List of habitats reports
European Red List of habitats (Excel table)


Low to middle-high non-riverine Salix dominated scrub on permanent water-logged sites on organic or peaty soils in plains and low mountain valleys and plateaus. Dominant shrubs are Salix cinerea, Salix aurita, Salix pentandra, Salix atrocinerea (= Salix cinerea ssp. atrocinerea), Salix rosmarinifolia as well as hybrids of these willow species (like Salix x multinervis), sometimes together with other Salix species, Myrica gale, and/or Frangula alnus. The scrub is on average between 2 and 4 meters high, except for scrub dominated solely by Myrica gale or by Salix rosmarinifolia, which are on average lower. Trees like Alnus glutinosa, Fraxinus excelsior and Betula pubescens may be present, indicating the first stages of succession towards forest. The understorey of this habitat depends on the nutrient-status and acidity of the soil. In relatively nutrient-rich sites, the optimum for Salix cinerea, it is composed of common helophytes and tall-herbs, like Filipendula ulmaria, Phragmites australis, Iris pseudacorus, Geranium sylvaticum, Solanum dulcamara, Lythrum salicaria, Galium palustre, Scutellaria galericulata, Lycopus europaeus, Thelypteris palustris, Carex elata, Carex riparia, Carex gracilis and Carex remota. Under acidic, nutrient-poor conditions, which is the optimum for Salix aurita and Myrica gale, Sphagnum species may dominate the moss layer, while in the herb layer Carex diandra, Carex echinata, Carex limosa, Carex nigra, Carex rostrata, Agrostis canina, Comarum palustre, Eriophorum angustifolium, Menyanthes trifoliata and Calamagrostis canescens are found. The (sub)boreal distributed Salix rosmarinifolia often grows together with Betula humilis, but in pre-Alpine relict communities with Salix myrtilloides and Pedicularis sceptrum-carolinum. In very wet situations, floating and submerging aquatic plants may be present. In the Carpathians and Rodopi mountains, several rare relict species are found in this habitat, like Spiraea salicifolia, Evonymus nanus and Polemonium caeruleum. In Scandinavia, Salix myrsinifolia may accompany Salix pentandra, Salix aurita, Salix cinerea and Myrica gale and in northern Scandinavia Salix lapponum, Salix lanata and Salix glauca are dominating the habitat together with among others Salix myrsinifolia and Salix phyllicifolia.

The habitat type is widespread in Atlantic, Boreal and Continental Europe, both in lowlands and mountains. It is found more sporadically in the Mediterranean, where it occurs mainly in mountains. It is absent from the Arctic and most northern Boreal regions. It is an azonal habitat, related to permanent wet soils, found in fens, mires, marshy floodplains, along brooks and on fringes of lakes, ponds and wet forest. It often forms relatively small stands and mosaics with other marsh habitats. It may develop in wet meadows when hay making ceases, indicating abandonment of traditional land-use. It also develops in drained mires and bogs. It is mainly a non-riverine type, as spring-fed and temporarily flooded Salix scrubs on the shores of brooks or rivers are included in habitat F9.1 Riverine scrub. In those situations other Salix species (S. triandra, S. fragilis) dominate in most cases, but, for example, Salix cinerea may also be present. It also excludes Salix scrub from well-drained sites in high mountains and subarctic regions (alliance Salicion pentandrae), which are considered under F2.3 Subalpine and subarctic deciduous scrub. Myrica gale dominated vegetation is included in this habitat, but in bogs and mires it may be considered part of the broader defined habitats of the main group D. In wet dune slacks similar Salix cinerea communities are found, but those are considered part of B1.6a.

Indicators of quality:

  • Dominance of Salix species or Myrica gale.
  • Forming landscape mosaics with more open reedbeds, mires and grasslands.
  • Presence of relict species.

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

The habitat type meets the Near Threatened (NT) category because of a relatively large decline in area (criterion A1) and in quality (criterion C/D1). There is some uncertainty, as the overall assessment is strongly affected by the French data (more than 50% of the total area was reported from France), while data from several northern countries, which are supposed to have a stable or increasing trend, were missing.
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Near threatened A1, C/D1
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Near threatened A1, C/D1

Confidence in the assessment

Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • Agriculture
    • Agricultural intensification
  • Sylviculture, forestry
    • Forest planting on open ground (native trees)
  • Mining, extraction of materials and energy production
    • Peat extraction
  • Natural System modifications
    • Infilling of ditches, dykes, ponds, pools, marshes or pits
    • Canalisation

Habitat restoration potential

Like other wet grasslands on Europe, the main threats for these submediterranean grasslands are agricultural intensification, including fertilisation and drainage. Other losses are due to changes in the (natural) hydrology of floodplains and habitat destruction by urbanisation and expansion of infrastructure (e.g. roads).

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

The most important conservation measure that can be done is to restore the hydrological conditions properly when they have been negatively affected (e.g. fill in ditches etc.). The problem with eutrophication can only be solved by international agreements.

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to wetland, freshwater and coastal habitats
    • Other wetland related measures
    • Restoring/Improving the hydrological regime


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 10 Stable Decreasing
Belgium Present Decreasing Decreasing
Bulgaria Present 0.05 Decreasing Decreasing
Czech Republic Present 62 Decreasing Decreasing
Ireland Present 6 Unknown Unknown
Croatia Present Unknown Decreasing Decreasing
Finland mainland Present 200-500 Unknown Unknown
France mainland Present 1000-2500 Decreasing Decreasing
Hungary Present 170 Stable Decreasing
Latvia Present Unknown Unknown Increasing
Netherlands Present Unknown Unknown Stable
Romania Present 2.1 Unknown Decreasing
Slovakia Present 1 Decreasing Decreasing
Slovenia Present 0.5 Decreasing Decreasing
United Kingdom Present 150 Stable Increasing
Denmark Present 100-200 Unknown Increasing
Italy mainland Present 174 Decreasing Decreasing
Poland Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Germany Present Unknown Stable Decreasing
Lithuania Present <25 Unknown Decreasing
Sweden Present 600 Stable Increasing
EU28 + Present or presence uncertain Current area of habitat (Km2) Recent trend in quantity (last 50 years) Recent trend in quality (last 50 years)
Switzerland Present 110 Stable Decreasing
Bosnia and Herzegovina Present 10 Stable Increasing
Norway Mainland 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 6649200 1287 3450 Lacking data from some countries, but probably not from any important
EU28+ 1331 3570 data lacking from Norway, which has a substantial area of the habitat
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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