Red List habitat classification > RLG - Forests > RLG1.6a Fagus woodland on non-acid soils

Fagus woodland on non-acid soils

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLG1.6a
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)


Within the climatic zone where Fagus sylvatica (including in south-eastern Europe ssp. orientalis and ssp. moesiaca) can out-compete other broadleaved trees, this habitat comprises all those beech woodlands on more base-rich and neutral soils including both nutrient-poor rendzinas and more fertile brown earths. They extend from the Atlantic zone, in Great Britain, northern France and the Pyrenees, through the Continental zone into the Alpine region of central Europe, the Carpathians, and the Balkans. Beech is the supreme dominant in the canopy, which, on more productive soils, is often very high, the majestic trees creating a cathedral like effect. However, there are more associates here than on base-poor soils even though they are sometimes in a subordinate canopy tier, with Quercus petraea, Q. robur, Fraxinus excelsior, Acer pseudoplatanus, A. platanoides and Ulmus glabra. Carpinus betulus and Tilia cordata are more common in the warmer lowlands while more strongly thermophilous types in periodically dry situations have Sorbus aria, S. torminalis, Aesculus hippocastanum and Acer campestre. To the Atlantic west, Taxus baccata is characteristic, though groves, where it becomes locally dominant, are included in G3.9a Taxus woodland. Towards higher altitudes, there can be some Abies alba and Picea abies but co-dominant canopies fall within the G3.1b and G3.1c mountain Abies woodland. The shrub layer is typically sparse and the most common species throughout are Crataegus monogyna, C. laevigata, Corylus avellana, Viburnum opulus, V. lantana, Cornus sanguinea, Prunus spinosa, Ligustrum vulgare, Rosa arvensis and R. canina agg., of which many are more typical of thermophilous oak woodland. Ilex aquifolium increases towards the Atlantic, Daphne laureola and Buxus sempervirens in the south-west while Hedera helix is the commonest liana overall with Lonicera alpigena and L. nigra in the Alps, Dinarides and Carpathians. The herb layer is here often species-rich with a predominance overall of shade-tolerant mesophytes, many of them shared with mixed broadleaved forests of the nemoral zone (G1Aa Carpinus & Quercus mesic deciduous woodland): Galium odoratum, Milium effusum, Mycelis muralis, Lamiastrum galeobdolon, Pulmonaria obscura, Scrophularia nodosa, Viola reichenbachiana, Poa nemoralis, Athyrium filix-femina and Dryopteris filix-mas. On more base-rich soils, Mercurialis perennis, Hordelymus europaeus, Brachypodium sylvaticum, Bromus benekenii, Euphorbia amygdaloides, Asarum europaeum, Lathyrus vernus, Sanicula europaea, Actaea spicata, Paris quadrifolia, Melica uniflora are frequent. Typical spring geophytes include Anemone nemorosa, A. ranunculoides, Allium ursinum, Corydalis cava, C. solida and Ranunculus ficaria with Hyacinthoides non-scripta in the Atlantic zone. In the more continental parts of central Europe, Carex digitata, C. umbrosa, Galium sylvaticum, Melica nutans, Campanula trachelium, Neottia nidus-avis and Vicia sepium are typical, while in montane stands, Polygonatum verticillatum, Senecio ovatus, Prenanthes purpurea and Stellaria nemorum are differential. At the upper altitudinal limit, Ranunculus platanifolius, Cicerbita alpina, Petasites albus, Athyrium distentifolium, Geranium sylvaticum, Senecio nemorensis and in the Alps and neighbouring mountains, Adenostyles alliariae, Veratrum album, Saxifraga rotundifolia, Viola biflora, Luzula luzulina, Astrantia major and Polystichum lonchitis. Thermophilous beech forests of this type, found in higher zonation belts in southern Europe or in locally warmer situations elsewhere, are especially species-rich and may have extensive thermophilous shrub layer, though the particular flora varies much according to the region and the altitude.

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

The habitat showed a moderate qualitative decrease over almost one-third of its area and a slight decrease in quality over larger areas (>70%, criterion C/D1) with continuing pressures and threats being present, an therefore qualifies as Near Threatened. Because of large EOO and AOO, and with only a slight quantitative decrease all other criteria are assessed Least Concern as well. The assessment of historic trends was not possible due to data deficiencies.
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
    • Forest replanting (non native trees)
    • Removal of forest undergrowth
    • Removal of dead and dying trees
    • Forestry activities not referred to above
  • Transportation and service corridors
    • Roads, paths and railroads
  • Urbanisation, residential and commercial development
    • Urbanised areas, human habitation
  • Natural System modifications
    • Other ecosystem modifications
    • Reduction or loss of specific habitat features
  • Natural biotic and abiotic processes (without catastrophes)
    • Interspecific floral relations
    • Damage by herbivores (including game species)

Habitat restoration potential

Both naturally and through intervention full recovery of the habitat usually needs time-spans over 200 years. While the tree species can be planted, already the characteristic species of the herb layer include many myrmecochorous species (seeds dispersed very slowly over small distances by ants). The full set of characteristic species includes many saproxylic invertebrates and fungi which need a historic habitat continuity, all of these need old and dead trees in a late development stage of forests, some of them even after 2-3 tree generations unable to recolonise new forest stands. Furthermore in situations where forests are isolated (especially in European densely populated lowlands) or where characteristic species are (on the verge of) extinction or extinct a full restoration is impossible even with active intervention. Therefore, pristine remnants and any ancient woodland need highest conservation priorities and connectivity needs to be developed especially in fragmented sites.

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 majority of beech forests in the EU are under regular forestry management which reduces the development phases to about a third of the natural tree life with deficits in deadwood and all microhabitats associated with old trees. Apart from guaranteeing a regrowth (natural or by planting) of the beech forest after harvesting (no losses in area), a certain minimum of wilderness core zones combined with some allowance for dead or dying trees within used forests is a good way of combining nature conservation needs with forestry use. Forest fragmentation by urbanization and infrastructure needs adapted spatial planning, in regions with already a low forest cover, additional forest planting to reduce fragmentation in future. As full regeneration is very difficult ancient woodland and the small remnants of pristine woodland are of highest conservation interest, but establishing protected areas on small areas is not sufficient alone. Regionally management of invasive species might be necessary, or in the case of high pressure of grazing, areas with exclusion of grazing should be established, or game populations reduced and managed.

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
    • Establish protected areas/sites
    • Establishing wilderness areas/allowing succession
    • Legal protection of habitats and species
  • Measures related to hunting, taking and fishing and species management
    • Regulation/Management of hunting and taking


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 4500 Decreasing Decreasing
Belgium Present 79 Unknown Stable
Bulgaria Present 5500 Decreasing Decreasing
Croatia Present 6123 Decreasing Decreasing
Czech Republic Present 1236 Decreasing Decreasing
Denmark Present 467 Decreasing Unknown
France mainland Present 9420 Decreasing Increasing
Corsica Present 9420 Decreasing Increasing
Germany Present 7600 Decreasing Increasing
Greece (mainland and other islands) Present 2766 Increasing Unknown
Hungary Present 1160 Decreasing Decreasing
Ireland Present 4 Stable Increasing
Italy mainland Present 9116 Decreasing Decreasing
Sicily Present 9116 Decreasing Decreasing
Luxembourg Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Netherlands Present 9.5 Decreasing Increasing
Poland Present 245 Decreasing Decreasing
Romania Present 18836 Decreasing Decreasing
Slovakia Present 6000 Unknown Decreasing
Slovenia Present 3268 Stable Stable
Spain mainland Present 557 Stable Decreasing
Sweden Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
United Kingdom Present 360 Decreasing Unknown
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 400 Decreasing Decreasing
Andorra Uncertain - -
Bosnia and Herzegovina Present 6600 Decreasing Increasing
Kosovo Present 390 Decreasing Decreasing
Liechtestein Uncertain - -
Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Present 962 Decreasing Stable
Monaco Uncertain - -
Montenegro Present 280 Unknown Stable
Norway Mainland Present 27 Unknown Increasing
Serbia Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Switzerland Present 1850 Decreasing Stable

Extent of Occurrence, Area of Occupancy and habitat area

Extent of Occurrence (EOO) (Km2) Area of Occupancy (AOO) Current estimated Total Area Comment
EU28 4283450 15972 >77000 minimum, smaller data gaps
EU28+ 17390 >88000 minimum, smaller data gaps
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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