Red List habitat classification > RLG - Forests > RLG1.1 Temperate and boreal softwood riparian woodland

Temperate and boreal softwood riparian woodland

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLG1.1
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)


This is riparian woodland occurring on periodically-inundated river terraces of active floodplains with deposition of nutrient-rich alluvium in the boreal, boreo-nemoral, nemoral, submediterranean and steppe zones. Typically, there is a tall canopy dominated by one or a few tree species, commonly Salix alba, sometimes S. fragilis (maybe favouring situations where there is lime-deficiency). Two other trees commonly found here are Populus alba which is really a submediterranean tree but widely planted and naturalised and P. nigra, native in a large part of Europe (from western to central south-eastern part), but also widely planted, though often outnumbered there by hybrids such as P. x euramericana and x canadensis. Typically, alder is absent from the canopy and riparian woodlands where Alnus glutinosa or A. incana form part or all of the tree cover are not included here but with land-upheaval woodlands in G1.2a Alnus woodland on alluvial and mineral soil. There is often a dense understorey of smaller Salix spp., Sambucus nigra and other shrubs beneath the trees, the composition of this layer depending on the local degree of wetness of the ground. Among these, tangles of lianes and sprawlers such as Galium aparine and Solanum dulcamara occur. The field layer is typically dominated by a luxuriant cover of shade-tolerant, nutrient-demanding tall herbs, notably Urtica dioica, in mountain areas also Petastites hybridus, with a carpet of smaller plants beneath. Characteristically, much of the taller herb cover dies back quickly in autumn to leave a patchy carpet of mat-forming bryophytes on exposed mud. After a flood, there can be much woody debris washed in from upstream. This type does not include scrubs dominated by narrow-leaved willows S. eleagnos, S. purpurea and S. viminalis which fall within F9.1 Temperate and boreal riparian scrub.

Indicators of quality:

● Undisturbed hydrology with natural disturbance, at least periodically inundated with flood waters in uncontrolled stretches of mature rivers, though remnant stands can persist for some time around naturally isolated ox-bows.

  • Survival of larger stands of forest continuously developed along the rivers without fragmentation and isolation
  • Few if any signs of exploitation for timber, fallen trees remaining in situ and ample deposition of natural organic debris from flooding.
  • No signs of eutrophication or pollution by anthropogenically enriched flood-waters, for example excessive spread of nutrient-demanding weeds.
  • Absence of non-native tree species (Alien Poplar, Robinia pseudoacacia, Acer negundo...) and absence of invasive aliens such as Reynoutria japonica or Impatiens glandulifera.
  • High diversity of epiphytic bryophytes (eg. Orthotrichum spp.)

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

Even if the decline in quantity has been slight (-13.4 to -13.8%) for the last 50 years (the current trend is still a decline in most countries), the Near threatened category is reached because of a more than moderate decline in quality (54 to 55 %) on 34 to 35 % of the surface (between 30% and the 50% level that qualifies the Vulnerable category). The situation is very different between countries, and a VU, EN and even CR category would have been reached in some countries (especially in central Europe). In North-western Europe the situation seems to be better. The current trend is still a decline in quality in many countries, except in north-western countries (British Isles, Benelux, Germany).
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Near Threatened C/D1
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Near Threatened C/D1

Confidence in the assessment

Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • Sylviculture, forestry
    • Forest and Plantation management & use
    • Forestry clearance
    • Grazing in forests/ woodland
  • Transportation and service corridors
    • Roads, paths and railroads
  • Urbanisation, residential and commercial development
    • Urbanised areas, human habitation
  • Pollution
    • Pollution to surface waters (limnic, terrestrial, marine & brackish)
    • Diffuse groundwater pollution due to agricultural and forestry activities
  • Invasive, other problematic species and genes
    • Invasive non-native species
  • Natural System modifications
    • Human induced changes in hydraulic conditions
    • Canalisation & water deviation
    • Lack of flooding
    • Small hydropower projects, weirs
  • Climate change
    • Droughts and less precipitations
    • Flooding and rising precipitations

Habitat restoration potential

Restoration should involve improving the hydrological functioning, by restoring natural river banks and removing dams.

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 keys to the conservation of temperate and boreal softwood riparian woodland are a strict protection of remaining sites, especially from expansion of land uses for urbanisation and agriculture, but also from Populus plantation, from damming and river regulation, and conservation or improvement of water quality. A free flowing river should experience floods allowing aggradation and nutrient- deposition, soil and vegetation rejenuvation (erosion and destruction of trees).

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to forests and wooded habitats
    • Restoring/Improving forest habitats
    • Adapt forest management
  • Measures related to wetland, freshwater and coastal habitats
    • Restoring/Improving water quality
    • Restoring/Improving the hydrological regime
  • Measures related to spatial planning
    • 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)
Austria Present 40 Decreasing Decreasing
Belgium Present 2,6 Decreasing Increasing
Bulgaria Present 200 Decreasing Decreasing
Croatia Present 409 Decreasing Decreasing
Czech Republic Present 27 Decreasing Decreasing
Denmark Present 50 Decreasing Unknown
Estonia Uncertain 35 Increasing Increasing
Finland mainland Present 50 Decreasing Decreasing
Aland Islands Uncertain 50 Decreasing Decreasing
France mainland Present 600 Decreasing Decreasing
Corsica Uncertain 600 Decreasing Decreasing
Germany Present 40 Decreasing Increasing
Greece (mainland and other islands) Present 352 Decreasing Unknown
Hungary Present 420 Unknown Increasing
Ireland Present 0,9 Stable Increasing
Latvia Present unknown Decreasing -
Lithuania Present 17 Decreasing Stable
Luxembourg Uncertain unknown - -
Netherlands Present 44 - Increasing
Poland Present 60 Decreasing Decreasing
Portugal mainland Uncertain - -
Romania Present 960 Decreasing Decreasing
Slovakia Present 8 Decreasing Decreasing
Slovenia Present 28 Decreasing Decreasing
Balearic Islands Present 89,1 Decreasing Decreasing
Sweden Present unknown - -
United Kingdom Present 80 Decreasing Increasing
Northern Island Present 80 Decreasing Increasing
Cyprus Present 0,3 Stable Increasing
Italy mainland Present 534 Decreasing Decreasing
Sardinia Present 534 Decreasing Decreasing
Sicily Present 534 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)
Albania Present - -
Bosnia and Herzegovina Uncertain 100 Decreasing Decreasing
Iceland Uncertain - -
Kaliningrad Present - -
Kosovo Present 25 Decreasing Decreasing
Liechtestein Uncertain - -
Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Present 40 Decreasing Unknown
Montenegro Present 20 Unknown Unknown
Norway Mainland Present 274 Decreasing Decreasing
San Marino Uncertain - -
Serbia Present unknown - -
Switzerland Present 3 Decreasing Decreasing
Vatican City Uncertain - -

Extent of Occurrence, Area of Occupancy and habitat area

Extent of Occurrence (EOO) (Km2) Area of Occupancy (AOO) Current estimated Total Area Comment
EU28 7597700 4526 4600 AOO and EOO incl. potential distribution
EU28+ 5268 5400 AOO and EOO incl. potential distribution
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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1050 Copenhagen K
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