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

Fagus woodland on acid soils

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLG1.6b
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)

Summary

Within the climatic zone where Fagus sylvatica is able to maintain dominance over other broadleaved trees, this habitat includes those beech woodlands which occur on impoverished, free-draining, base-poor rankers, acid brown earths and podzols developed from silicate bedrocks and sandy or gravelly superficial deposits. They extend from the Atlantic zone in Great Britain, France and Northern Spain, through Central Europe into the Continental zone and, in northern Italy and the Balkans into the Alpine region. Typically, Fagus sylvatica is overwhelmingly dominant (often ssp. moesiaca in the mid and eastern Balkans), when growing well forming a tall, cathedral-like canopy in which associates are few: Quercus petraea and less commonly Q. robur throughout the range, with Q. pyrenaica in the south-west and Castanea sativa in the west and south. In the Atlantic zone, Ilex aquifolium is a common understorey tree. Pinus sylvestris can be present at low altitudes, especially on shallow soils on siliceous rocks. At higher altitudes, Acer pseudoplatanus can occur, A. heldreichii in the Balkans and, towards the altitudinal limits of this woodland type, Abies alba and Picea abies in transitions to G3.1b and G3.1c mountain fir woodlands. The field layer is typically species-poor and often sparse, comprising shade-tolerant grasses and herbs and a few bryophytes. Commonest among these are Deschampsia flexuosa, Agrostis capillaris, Carex pilulifera, Oxalis acetosella, Maianthemum bifolium, Luzula pilosa, Vaccinium myrtillus, Pteridium aquilinum, Polytrichum formosum, Dicranella heteromalla, Dicranum scoparium, Mnium hornum and Hypnum cupressiforme. Generally, across the lowlands, Melampyrum pratense is characteristic with, towards the north-western Atlantic, Ruscus aculeatus, Lonicera periclymenum, Teucrium scorodonia, Hypericum pulchrum, Blechnum spicant, towards the south-west in the Massif Central, Pyrenees and Cantabrian Mountains, Euphorbia angulata, E. hyberna, Saxifraga hirsuta, S. spathularis and Luzula sylvatica spp. henriquesii. L. nivea and L. pedemontana occur in Insubria and Piedmont and Festuca drymeja in Illyria and the Carpathians. In the European lowlands, mixed Fagus-Quercus robur forests with this field layer should also be included under these Fagus woodlands. At higher altitudes, Dryopteris dilatata, Festuca altissima, Prenanthes purpurea, Luzula luzuloides, L. sylvatica, Senecio ovatus and S. nemorensis occur with, in mountain stands, Polygonatum verticillatum, Calamagrostis villosa and Homogyne alpina. Apart from the altitudinal variation from lowlands to higher altitudes, there is a broad range of different ecological situations in climatic and soil moisture conditions, ranging from relatively dry conditions with Carex pilulifera, Hieracium glaucinum or complete moss layers of Leucrobryum glaucum s.l. to humid conditions with ferns like Dryopteris filix-mas and Athyrium filix-femina. In relatively wet conditions species such as Frangula alnus, Lysimachia vulgaris occur, sometimes Molinia caerulea agg. can be dominant or if temporarily wet conditions prevail also Carex brizoides. Especially in subatlantic and atlantic conditions dominant species in the herb layer can be Pteridium aquilinum.

Indicators of quality:

Through the lowlands, this habitat has been widely converted to dwarf-shrub heaths for stock rearing and, later, partially re-afforestation with pine and spruce. At higher altitudes, there has been widespread replacement by conifer plantations (Picea spp., Pseudotsuga menziesii etc). High quality stands should show:

• Natural composition of canopy with dominant beech trees

• Structural diversity/ complexity with (semi)natural age structure or completeness of layers

• Typical flora and fauna composition of the region

• Presence of old trees and a variety of dead wood (lying or standing) and the associated flora, fauna and fungi

• Presence of natural disturbance such as treefall openings with natural regeneration

• Long historical continuity (ancient woodland) with high species diversity

• Survival of larger stands of forest without anthropogenic fragmentation and isolation (to support fauna which need large undisturbed forests) • Absence of non-native species in all layers (flora & fauna)

• No signs of eutrophication (e.g. with the spread of shade-tolerant nitrophiles) or pollution

• No signs of acidification

• No man-induced very high population levels of ungulates

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

The habitat suffered a moderate qualitative decrease over more than one third of its area and a slight decrease over large area (>70%) with continuing pressures and threats being present. This leads to the category Near Threatened under criterion C/D1. Because of the large EOO and AOO, and a slight quantitative decrease all other criteria are Least Concern as well. Assessment of historic trends were not possible due to data deficiencies.
EU
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Near Threatened C/D1
Europe
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Near Threatened C/D1

Confidence in the assessment

medium
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
    • Forest exploitation without replanting or natural regrowth
    • Forestry activities not referred to above
  • Transportation and service corridors
    • Roads, paths and railroads
  • Urbanisation, residential and commercial development
    • Urbanised areas, human habitation
  • Invasive, other problematic species and genes
    • Invasive non-native species
  • Natural System modifications
    • Other ecosystem modifications
    • Anthropogenic reduction of habitat connectivity
  • Natural biotic and abiotic processes (without catastrophes)
    • Damage by herbivores (including game species)
  • Climate change
    • Changes in abiotic conditions
    • Changes in biotic conditions

Habitat restoration potential

Both naturally and through interventation full recovery of the habitat usually needs time-spans over 200 years. While the tree species can be planted, the characteristic species of the herb layer include many myrmecochore 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 require old and dead trees in a late development stage of forests, some of them are 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. Pristine remnants and any ancient woodland therefore needs highest conservation priorities and connectivity needs to be developed especially in fragmented sites.

Trends in extent

Average current trend in quantity

Stable Stable
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 dead wood 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 may be needed 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 should be reduced and managed.

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to forests and wooded habitats
    • Other forestry-related measures
    • 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
  • Measures related to urban areas, industry, energy and transport
    • Specific management of traffic and energy transport systems

Distribution

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 1400 Unknown Decreasing
Belgium Present 680 Decreasing Unknown
Bulgaria Present 85 Decreasing Decreasing
Croatia Present 44 Stable Stable
Czech Republic Present 1511 Decreasing Decreasing
Denmark Present 164 Decreasing Unknown
France mainland Present 4500 Decreasing Increasing
Germany Present 6100 Decreasing Increasing
Greece (mainland and other islands) Present 1342 Stable Unknown
Hungary Present 25 Stable Stable
Ireland Present 2 Stable Stable
Italy mainland Present 2878 Decreasing Increasing
Luxembourg Present unknown Unknown Unknown
Netherlands Present 1080 Stable Decreasing
Poland Present 205 Decreasing Decreasing
Romania Present 12730 Decreasing Decreasing
Slovakia Present 420 Unknown Decreasing
Slovenia Present 1534 Decreasing Stable
Spain mainland Present 2544 Decreasing Increasing
United Kingdom Present 680 Decreasing Unknown
Sweden Present unknown Unknown Unknown
Northern Island Present 680 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 unknown Unknown Unknown
Bosnia and Herzegovina Present 1900 Decreasing Increasing
Kosovo Present 44 Decreasing Decreasing
Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Present 1798 Decreasing Increasing
Montenegro Present 1490 Unknown Stable
Norway Mainland Present 53 Unknown Increasing
Serbia Present unknown Unknown Unknown
Switzerland Present 570 Decreasing Stable
Andorra Uncertain - -
Kaliningrad Uncertain unknown Unknown Unknown
Liechtestein Uncertain 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 4979750 11507 37719 minimum, smaller data gaps
EU28+ 12037 44000 minimum, some 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

The full list of characteristic species and genus are available above from the Summary. The species available in the EUNIS database are shown here.
Conifers Abies alba
Conifers Picea abies
Conifers Pinus sylvestris
Conifers Pseudotsuga menziesii
Ferns Athyrium filix-femina
Ferns Blechnum spicant
Ferns Dryopteris dilatata
Ferns Dryopteris filix-mas
Ferns Pteridium aquilinum
Flowering Plants Acer pseudoplatanus
Flowering Plants Agrostis capillaris
Flowering Plants Calamagrostis epigejos
Flowering Plants Calamagrostis villosa
Flowering Plants Carex brizoides
Flowering Plants Carex pilulifera
Flowering Plants Castanea sativa
Flowering Plants Convallaria majalis
Flowering Plants Deschampsia flexuosa
Flowering Plants Euphorbia angulata
Flowering Plants Fagus moesiaca
Flowering Plants Fagus sylvatica
Flowering Plants Festuca altissima
Flowering Plants Festuca drymeja
Flowering Plants Frangula alnus
Flowering Plants Hieracium glaucinum
Flowering Plants Hieracium murorum
Flowering Plants Homogyne alpina
Flowering Plants Hypericum pulchrum
Flowering Plants Ilex aquifolium
Flowering Plants Lonicera periclymenum
Flowering Plants Luzula luzuloides
Flowering Plants Luzula pilosa
Flowering Plants Luzula sylvatica
Flowering Plants Lysimachia vulgaris
Flowering Plants Maianthemum bifolium
Flowering Plants Melampyrum pratense
Flowering Plants Molinia caerulea
Flowering Plants Oxalis acetosella
Flowering Plants Polygonatum verticillatum
Flowering Plants Prenanthes purpurea
Flowering Plants Quercus petraea
Flowering Plants Quercus robur
Flowering Plants Ruscus aculeatus
Flowering Plants Saxifraga hirsuta
Flowering Plants Teucrium scorodonia
Flowering Plants Vaccinium myrtillus
Mosses & Liverworts Atrichum undulatum
Mosses & Liverworts Dicranella heteromalla
Mosses & Liverworts Dicranum scoparium
Mosses & Liverworts Hypnum cupressiforme
Mosses & Liverworts Leucobryum glaucum
Mosses & Liverworts Mnium hornum
Mosses & Liverworts Polytrichum formosum
Species scientific name English common name Species group
Abies alba Conifers
Picea abies Conifers
Pinus sylvestris Conifers
Pseudotsuga menziesii Conifers
Athyrium filix-femina Ferns
Blechnum spicant Ferns
Dryopteris dilatata Ferns
Dryopteris filix-mas Ferns
Pteridium aquilinum Ferns
Acer pseudoplatanus Flowering Plants
Agrostis capillaris Flowering Plants
Calamagrostis epigejos Flowering Plants
Calamagrostis villosa Flowering Plants
Carex brizoides Flowering Plants
Carex pilulifera Flowering Plants
Castanea sativa Flowering Plants
Convallaria majalis Flowering Plants
Deschampsia flexuosa Flowering Plants
Euphorbia angulata Flowering Plants
Fagus moesiaca Flowering Plants
Fagus sylvatica Flowering Plants
Festuca altissima Flowering Plants
Festuca drymeja Flowering Plants
Frangula alnus Flowering Plants
Hieracium glaucinum Flowering Plants
Hieracium murorum Flowering Plants
Homogyne alpina Flowering Plants
Hypericum pulchrum Flowering Plants
Ilex aquifolium Flowering Plants
Lonicera periclymenum Flowering Plants
Luzula luzuloides Flowering Plants
Luzula pilosa Flowering Plants
Luzula sylvatica Flowering Plants
Lysimachia vulgaris Flowering Plants
Maianthemum bifolium Flowering Plants
Melampyrum pratense Flowering Plants
Molinia caerulea Flowering Plants
Oxalis acetosella Flowering Plants
Polygonatum verticillatum Flowering Plants
Prenanthes purpurea Flowering Plants
Quercus petraea Flowering Plants
Quercus robur Flowering Plants
Ruscus aculeatus Flowering Plants
Saxifraga hirsuta Flowering Plants
Teucrium scorodonia Flowering Plants
Vaccinium myrtillus Flowering Plants
Atrichum undulatum Mosses & Liverworts
Dicranella heteromalla Mosses & Liverworts
Dicranum scoparium Mosses & Liverworts
Hypnum cupressiforme Mosses & Liverworts
Leucobryum glaucum Mosses & Liverworts
Mnium hornum Mosses & Liverworts
Polytrichum formosum Mosses & Liverworts

Vegetation types

Relation to vegetation types (syntaxa)

Not available

Other classifications

This habitat may be equivalent to, or broather than, or narrower than the habitats or ecosystems in the following typologies.
Classification Code Habitat type name Relationship type
EUNIS Habitat Classification 200711 G1.6 Fagus woodland narrower
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