Red List habitat classification > RLG - Forests > RLG1.8 Acidophilous Quercus woodland

Acidophilous Quercus woodland

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLG1.8
Threat status
Europe Vulnerable
EU Vulnerable
Relation to
Source European Red List habitat factsheet
European Red List of habitats reports
European Red List of habitats (Excel table)

Summary

These are oak-dominated woodlands typical of acidic, free draining soils with mor humus on sandstones, lime-poor metamorphic and igneous rocks and sandy and gravelly soils through the nemoral zone. Extending from the Atlantic fringe of northern Portugal and Spain, across north-west and central Europe into southern Scandinavia, the northern Balkans and on into Russia, the habitat occurs often very fragmentary and scattered now in the prevailingly agricultural semi-natural landscape. Variations in climate across this wide overall range, from extreme Atlantic on the western fringes of Ireland and the British Isles, Lusitanian in northern Iberia, through Continental to Boreal in the east and sub-Mediterranean in the south, have an effect on the associated flora, even though this is not in general very rich.

 The characteristic oaks here are Quercus robur and Q. petraea, often occurring with a subordinate proportion of Betula pendula and/or B. pubescens, which can be pioneers in this habitat following fire or clear-felling, are relatively short-lived survivors in mature forest and which have been selected against in the coppice manage-ment or timber extraction often imposed on these woodlands. Through much of the range in central and north-western Europe, Fagus sylvatica is a potential competitor for canopy dominance even on mineral-poor, sandy soils. On acidic, mineral-rich soils with moder humus co-dominant Fagus-Quercus canopies are better classified under G1.6b Fagus woodland on acid soils. On highly acidic soils to the Boreal east of the range, Pinus sylvestris replaces the oaks as the dominant tree in woodlands with much the same field layer. In central European mountain ranges on shallow siliceous soils Pinus sylvestris can also be present in the canopy in lower proportions. Overall, other associated trees and shrubs are typically very few in this habitat: Sorbus aucuparia and Frangula alnus occur through much of the range, Castanea sativa, Sorbus torminalis and Pyrus cordata in the Sub-Atlantic heartland and, to the west, Ilex aquifolium can be abundant.

 The field layer is generally rather species-poor with calcifuge sub-shrubs, herbs and cryptogams most characteristic and lending a heathy appearance, especially under lighter shade and where grazing is absent. Constant through much of the range are Vaccinium myrtillus, Calluna vulgaris (in more open places), Deschampsia flexuosa, Agrostis capillaris, Anthoxanthum odoratum, Festuca ovina agg., Holcus mollis, Carex pilulifera, Potentilla erecta, Hieracium sabaudum, this sometimes tall and dense on less shallow soils. The commonest bryophytes overall are Polytrichum formosum, Hypnum jutlandicum, Pleurozium schreberi and Leucobryum glaucum.

 Regional variations in the flora in relation to climatic differences can be seen in each of the layers of the vegetation moving away from the Sub-Atlantic woodlands of central and western France, the lower Rhineland and north-east Italy/south-west Switzerland. In the more Atlantic climate of the north-west, there is a further contingent of herbs such as Galium saxatile, Teucrium scorodonia, Hypericum pulchrum, Luzula sylvatica and Blechnum spicant and to the western seaboard of Ireland and the UK an extraordinary additional richness in cryptogams and ferns which, with annual precipitation up to 3000 mm, lends this habitat a great luxuriance. It is this vegetation which forms the richer core of Annex 1 91A0 Sessile Oakwoods in the British Isles.

 On the Atlantic fringe of Portugal and Spain, with annual precipitation up to 2000 mm but with warmer summers and milder winters, Quercus petraea tends to be less prominent than further north but there is often some Q. pyrenaica along with Betula pubescens spp. celtiberica and Arbutus unedo. Cytisus scoparius, Ulex gallii and Erica arborea enrich the sub-shrub layer, with the lianas Rubia peregrina and Tamus communis. Herbs such as Pseudarrhenatherum longifolium, Potentilla montana, Daboecia cantabrica, Crepis lampsanoides, Luzula forsteri, Euphorbia dulcis, Melitis melissophyllum, Silene nutans, Polygonatum odoratum, Galium rotundifolium, Arenaria montana, Genista florida, Rumex papillaris give a South Atlantic or more Mediterranean feel to the flora.

 In northern Europe and southern Scandinavia, some Eurasian Temperate and Boreal species such as Vaccinium vitis-idaea, Maianthemum bifolium and Luzula pilosa begin to appear in these woodlands and examples on the Baltic-North Sea plain form the core of the Annex 1 9190 Old acidophilous oakwoods with Quercus robur on sandy plains.

 Further east, through Germany, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine and into Russia, where Pinus sylvestris begins to challenge the dominance of Quercus spp. on impoverished acid soils, Juniperus communis and Euonymus verrucosa are additional woody species and, among the herbs, Trientalis europaea, Rubus saxatilis, Pyrola rotundifolia, Orthilia secunda, Calamagrostis arundinacea. At the extreme east of the range, where there is usually less than 800mm precipitation and winter temperatures down to -12°C, Carex digitata, Galium schultesii and Chamaecytisus ruthenicus are characteristic. Among the bryophytes Dicranum polysetum, Eurhynchium angustirete and Rhodobryum roseum are distinctive here.

 Further south, at the eastern sub-Mediterranean limit of this habitat in Austria, the northern Balkans and Romania, the warmer climate is reflected in the appearance of Quercus cerris, Q. dalechampii and Q. polycarpa in the canopy, Pyrus communis and Euonymus verrucosa among the shrubs and Genista tinctoria, G. germanica, Cytisus nigricans, Rubus hirtus and Vincetoxicum hirundinaria in the herb layer. Castanea sativa woods are inlcuded in this forest type as well because of their  species-poor and calcifuge vegetation.

Indicators of good quality:

  • Sufficient proportion of historically old (ancient) woodland with corresponding species diversity
  • Presence of old trees and a variety of dead wood (lying and standing) and the associated flora, fauna and fungi
  • Sufficient structural diversity/ complexity including (semi)natural age structure
  • Maintenance of humidity beneath an intact canopy where a rich fern and bryophyte component is typical (e.g. for Annex 1 91A0)
  • Typical flora and fauna composition of the region
  • Absence of non-native tree species (such as Pseudotsuga menziesii) and absence of invasive aliens in all layers (fauna, flora)
  • No signs of eutrophication or pollution with e.g. pronounced invasion on nutrient-demanding herbs
  • Presence of gradients or mosaics with heathland or acidic grassland at the landscape level (not isolated within plantation forests).

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

The habitat is Vulnerable (VU) despite its large range and stable area (criterion A) because about 70% of its area shows a reduction in quality of more than 60% (criterion C/D). Accordingly, its most important Annex I type 9190 (Old acidophilous oak woods with Quercus robur on sandy plains) has conservation status unfavourable-bad in the atlantic and continental biogeographic region.
EU
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Vulnerable C/D1
Europe
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Vulnerable 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
  • Pollution
    • Air pollution, air-borne pollutants
    • Acid rain
    • Nitrogen-input
  • Invasive, other problematic species and genes
    • Invasive non-native species
  • Natural biotic and abiotic processes (without catastrophes)
    • Species composition change (succession)

Habitat restoration potential

Natural rejuvenation of the dominant oak species generally requires relatively large open areas (much larger than natural canopy gaps) associated with (historical) disturbances (heathlands, pine afforestations in secundary succession, abandoned fields etc.). However, this is only possible in the presence of sufficient mature oak trees providing the acorns. Severely damaged woodlands without such seed sources must be replanted and require +100 year to recover. Since the herb layer contains many species in common with heathland and poor grassland (often with persistent seed bank) recovery for these particular species is relatively easy. Species groups such as mycorrhizal fungi and hygrophytic bryophytes and ferns recolonize much less easy.

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

Woodlands still dominated by Quercus robur or Q. petraea in the tree layer have mostly been planted and explicitly managed as oak dominated woodland in the past. Due to failure of natural rejuvenation of these oak species, current oak woodlands must be managed intensively to avoid encroachment of more shade-tolerant and competitive tree species such as beech. Loss of area by natural succession can be compensated by (natural) conversion of pine afforestations to oak woodland and by succession of abandoned agricultural areas.

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to forests and wooded habitats
    • Restoring/Improving forest habitats

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 8 Stable Stable
Belgium Present 500 Unknown Stable
Croatia Present 1694 Stable Increasing
Czech Republic Present 816 Decreasing Stable
Denmark Present 38 Stable Unknown
Finland mainland Present 1 Stable Decreasing
France mainland Present 5421 Decreasing Increasing
Germany Present Unknown Decreasing Stable
Hungary Present 35 Stable Stable
Ireland Present 42 Stable Increasing
Italy mainland Present 49 Decreasing Decreasing
Lithuania Present 10 Decreasing Stable
Luxembourg Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Netherlands Present 703 Increasing Increasing
Poland Present 450 Decreasing Decreasing
Portugal mainland Present 356 Unknown Increasing
Romania Present 25 Stable Stable
Slovakia Present 13 Decreasing Stable
Slovenia Present 356 Stable Stable
Sweden Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
United Kingdom Present 1750 Decreasing Stable
Northern Island Present 1750 Decreasing Stable
Spain mainland Present 7580 Stable 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)
Bosnia and Herzegovina Present 630 Stable Stable
Norway Mainland Present 413 Stable Stable
Switzerland Present 150 Stable 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 6300200 8327 21589 including estimates for Germany (1200) and Sweden (500) ; Macedonia is not included
EU28+ 8786 22782 based on additional areas in Switzerland, Norway and Bosnia-Herzegovina
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 Juniperus communis
Conifers Pinus sylvestris
Conifers Pseudotsuga menziesii
Ferns Blechnum spicant
Ferns Dryopteris carthusiana
Ferns Pteridium aquilinum
Flowering Plants Agrostis capillaris
Flowering Plants Anthoxanthum odoratum
Flowering Plants Arbutus unedo
Flowering Plants Arenaria montana
Flowering Plants Betula pendula
Flowering Plants Betula pubescens
Flowering Plants Calamagrostis arundinacea
Flowering Plants Calluna vulgaris
Flowering Plants Carex digitata
Flowering Plants Carex pilulifera
Flowering Plants Castanea sativa
Flowering Plants Chamaecytisus ruthenicus
Flowering Plants Crepis lampsanoides
Flowering Plants Cytisus nigricans
Flowering Plants Cytisus scoparius
Flowering Plants Daboecia cantabrica
Flowering Plants Deschampsia flexuosa
Flowering Plants Erica arborea
Flowering Plants Euphorbia dulcis
Flowering Plants Fagus sylvatica
Flowering Plants Festuca ovina
Flowering Plants Frangula alnus
Flowering Plants Galium rotundifolium
Flowering Plants Galium saxatile
Flowering Plants Galium schultesii
Flowering Plants Genista florida
Flowering Plants Genista tinctoria
Flowering Plants Hieracium sabaudum
Flowering Plants Holcus mollis
Flowering Plants Hypericum pulchrum
Flowering Plants Ilex aquifolium
Flowering Plants Luzula forsteri
Flowering Plants Luzula pilosa
Flowering Plants Luzula sylvatica
Flowering Plants Maianthemum bifolium
Flowering Plants Melampyrum pratense
Flowering Plants Molinia caerulea
Flowering Plants Orthilia secunda
Flowering Plants Polygonatum odoratum
Flowering Plants Potentilla erecta
Flowering Plants Potentilla montana
Flowering Plants Pseudarrhenatherum longifolium
Flowering Plants Pyrola rotundifolia
Flowering Plants Pyrus communis
Flowering Plants Pyrus cordata
Flowering Plants Quercus cerris
Flowering Plants Quercus petraea
Flowering Plants Quercus robur
Flowering Plants Rubia peregrina
Flowering Plants Rubus fruticosus
Flowering Plants Rubus hirtus
Flowering Plants Rubus saxatilis
Flowering Plants Rumex papillaris
Flowering Plants Silene nutans
Flowering Plants Sorbus aucuparia
Flowering Plants Sorbus torminalis
Flowering Plants Tamus communis
Flowering Plants Teucrium scorodonia
Flowering Plants Trientalis europaea
Flowering Plants Ulex gallii
Flowering Plants Vaccinium myrtillus
Flowering Plants Vaccinium vitis-idaea
Flowering Plants Vincetoxicum hirundinaria
Mosses & Liverworts Dicranum polysetum
Mosses & Liverworts Dicranum scoparium
Mosses & Liverworts Eurhynchium angustirete
Mosses & Liverworts Hypnum jutlandicum
Mosses & Liverworts Leucobryum glaucum
Mosses & Liverworts Pleurozium schreberi
Mosses & Liverworts Polytrichum formosum
Mosses & Liverworts Rhodobryum roseum
Mosses & Liverworts Rhytidiadelphus loreus
Species scientific name English common name Species group
Juniperus communis Conifers
Pinus sylvestris Conifers
Pseudotsuga menziesii Conifers
Blechnum spicant Ferns
Dryopteris carthusiana Ferns
Pteridium aquilinum Ferns
Agrostis capillaris Flowering Plants
Anthoxanthum odoratum Flowering Plants
Arbutus unedo Flowering Plants
Arenaria montana Flowering Plants
Betula pendula Flowering Plants
Betula pubescens Flowering Plants
Calamagrostis arundinacea Flowering Plants
Calluna vulgaris Flowering Plants
Carex digitata Flowering Plants
Carex pilulifera Flowering Plants
Castanea sativa Flowering Plants
Chamaecytisus ruthenicus Flowering Plants
Crepis lampsanoides Flowering Plants
Cytisus nigricans Flowering Plants
Cytisus scoparius Flowering Plants
Daboecia cantabrica Flowering Plants
Deschampsia flexuosa Flowering Plants
Erica arborea Flowering Plants
Euphorbia dulcis Flowering Plants
Fagus sylvatica Flowering Plants
Festuca ovina Flowering Plants
Frangula alnus Flowering Plants
Galium rotundifolium Flowering Plants
Galium saxatile Flowering Plants
Galium schultesii Flowering Plants
Genista florida Flowering Plants
Genista tinctoria Flowering Plants
Hieracium sabaudum Flowering Plants
Holcus mollis Flowering Plants
Hypericum pulchrum Flowering Plants
Ilex aquifolium Flowering Plants
Luzula forsteri Flowering Plants
Luzula pilosa Flowering Plants
Luzula sylvatica Flowering Plants
Maianthemum bifolium Flowering Plants
Melampyrum pratense Flowering Plants
Molinia caerulea Flowering Plants
Orthilia secunda Flowering Plants
Polygonatum odoratum Flowering Plants
Potentilla erecta Flowering Plants
Potentilla montana Flowering Plants
Pseudarrhenatherum longifolium Flowering Plants
Pyrola rotundifolia Flowering Plants
Pyrus communis Flowering Plants
Pyrus cordata Flowering Plants
Quercus cerris Flowering Plants
Quercus petraea Flowering Plants
Quercus robur Flowering Plants
Rubia peregrina Flowering Plants
Rubus fruticosus Flowering Plants
Rubus hirtus Flowering Plants
Rubus saxatilis Flowering Plants
Rumex papillaris Flowering Plants
Silene nutans Flowering Plants
Sorbus aucuparia Flowering Plants
Sorbus torminalis Flowering Plants
Tamus communis Flowering Plants
Teucrium scorodonia Flowering Plants
Trientalis europaea Flowering Plants
Ulex gallii Flowering Plants
Vaccinium myrtillus Flowering Plants
Vaccinium vitis-idaea Flowering Plants
Vincetoxicum hirundinaria Flowering Plants
Dicranum polysetum Mosses & Liverworts
Dicranum scoparium Mosses & Liverworts
Eurhynchium angustirete Mosses & Liverworts
Hypnum jutlandicum Mosses & Liverworts
Leucobryum glaucum Mosses & Liverworts
Pleurozium schreberi Mosses & Liverworts
Polytrichum formosum Mosses & Liverworts
Rhodobryum roseum Mosses & Liverworts
Rhytidiadelphus loreus Mosses & Liverworts

Vegetation types

Relation to vegetation types (syntaxa)

Not available

Other classifications

Not available
European Environment Agency (EEA)
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