Red List habitat classification > RLG - Forests > RLG1.Aa Carpinus and Quercus mesic deciduous woodland

Carpinus and Quercus mesic deciduous woodland

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLG1.Aa
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)


These are deciduous broadleaved woodlands typical of free-draining to somewhat-strongly impeded brown earth soils and gleys of quite low, moderate to high base-status and moderate to high nutrient content across the lowlands and foothills of the temperate zone of western, central and southern Europe, with local extensions into regions of sub-Mediterranean, Pannonian and Boreal climate.  Partially this includes alluvial Quercus/ Carpinus-dominated forests in mountain valleys with infrequent indundation. The canopy is typically of mixed composition with oaks figuring prominently, notably Quercus robur and Q. petraea but with regional contributions from other oaks, along with Carpinus betulus, Fraxinus excelsior, F. angustifolia, Acer pseudoplatanus, A. campestre, A. platanoides, Ulmus glabra, Tilia cordata and T. tomentosa. Typically, Fagus sylvatica is at most a minor component here because it does not tolerate the stagnation in gley soils and is disadvantaged competitively, though transitions to more mesophilous and immature stands of free-draining G1.6a Fagus woodland on non-acid soils are quite common.  

The tree canopy can have a complex multi-layered structure (often much affected by sylviculture) but it casts a relatively light shade, so there is often a rich and extensive understorey of saplings, small trees, shrubs and lianes. Among the latter, Crataegus monogyna, C. laevigata, Corylus avellana, Euonymus europaeus, Viburnum opulus, Daphne mezereum, Lonicera xylosteum and Hedera helix are frequent throughout with other associates figuring according to regional or local climatic and edaphic conditions.  

The field layer too has a core of characteristic widely distributed hemicryptophytes and geophytes throughout the range with other contingents according to major climatic differences and local site conditions.  Viola reichenbachiana, Polygonatum multiflorum, Lamiastrum galeobdolon, Milium effusum, Campanula trachelium, Carex sylvatica, Pulmonaria obscura, P. officinalis, Scrophularia nodosa, Brachypodium sylvaticum, Galium odoratum, Poa nemoralis, Paris quadrifolia, Sanicula europaea, Adoxa moschatellina, Ranunculus auricomus, Arum maculatum are common throughout with Deschampsia cespitosa, Festuca gigantea, Stachys sylvatica, Circaea lutetiana, Impatiens noli-tangere and Athyrium filix-femina in moister situations.  There, too, especially where the soils are freshly aerated and more nutrient-rich, can be a striking vernal geophyte element with Ranunculus ficaria, Allium ursinum, Anemone nemorosa, Leucojum vernum and, in the Atlantic north-west, Hyacinthoides non-scripta. 

Within this broad frame, the geographic and climatic extremes can present rather striking contrasts.  To the Atlantic west, through Great Britain, Ireland and the foothills of northern Spain, Fraxinus excelsior can often exceed the oaks in its cover, is often accompanied by Ulmus glabra and, among the smaller trees of the understorey, Ilex aquifolium with Lonicera periclymenum a common liana.  Ferns such as Polystichum setiferum, P. aculeatum, Dryopteris filix-mas, D. affinis, Asplenium scolopendrium and A. trichomanes and a lush cover of bryophytes, especially bulky pleurocarpous mosses, reflect the humid atmosphere.  In northern Spain, Quercus ilex, Q. pyrenaica,  Laurus nobilis and Rhamnus alaternus in the canopy, Smilax aspera and Euphorbia peregrina as lianes and Helleborus viridis, Pulmonaria affinis and P. longifola among the herbs, reflect the warmer oceanic conditions adjacent to the sub-Mediterranean zone. 

Towards the east of its range, this habitat grades into the lime-oak woodlands which extend far into the Russian lowlands.  In the transitional types, Tilia cordata becomes more important in the canopy, along with occasional T. tomentosa, and Q. polycarpa and Q. dalechampii can figure among the oaks.  Further south, extending from the foothills of Austria, through Slovenia, into the Balkans, the flora has a distinct Illyrian aspect with Quercus cerris, Q. frainetto, Carpinus orientalis, Fraxinus ornus and a large contingent of herbs among which Epimedium alpinum, Erythronium dens-canis, Hellebrous dumetorum ssp. atrorubens, Knautia drymeia, Cyclamen purpurescens, Staphyles pinnata and Helleborus odorus are the most frequent.

Indicators of good quality:

  • Typical structure and composition of canopy: High forest stands should have a complex composition with a mixed age structure, well-developed understorey and active regeneration but diverse patterns of exploitation mean that there are numerous other quality states for this habitat and this also affects the kinds of regeneration that can occur.
  • Typical flora and fauna composition of the region
  • Presence of old trees and a variety of dead wood (lying and standing) and the associated flora, fauna and fungi
  • Presence of mosaics of developmental stages including gaps
  • Sufficient proportion of historically old (ancient) woodland with high species diversity
  • Survival of larger stands of forest without fragmentation and isolation
  • Absnce of non-native tree species and absence of invasive aliens in all layers (fauna, flora).
  • No eutrophication and pronounced invasion of nutrient-demanding herbs due to eutrophication from atmospheric deposition or ground-water enrichment

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

This mesic deciduous woodland type is evaluated Near Threatened (NT) because of a moderate decline in area affecting relatively large parts of the area (criterion C/D1). The habitat is assessed Least concern (LC) with respect to all other criteria, because the calculated trend in area over the lats 50 years is relatively low (-10%, criterion A) and this forest type is widespread in Europe.
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
  • Biological resource use other than agriculture & forestry
    • Damage caused by game (excess population density)
  • Pollution
    • Air pollution, air-borne pollutants
  • Natural System modifications
    • Water abstractions from groundwater
    • Anthropogenic reduction of habitat connectivity

Habitat restoration potential

Severe damage will require a very long time for recovery because of the high species diversity of this forest type including many ancient woodland species with low dispersal capacity and requirements for a mesic woodland climate.

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

Management and restoration should be directed to maintanance of large, unfragmented stands of ancient woodland with a rich structure of native shrubs and trees and a mosaic of developmental stages including gaps. Where woodlands are grazed, this should not be so intensive as to prevent regeneration.

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to agriculture and open habitats
    • Other agriculture-related measures
  • Measures related to forests and wooded habitats
    • Adapt forest management


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 480 Stable Increasing
Belgium Present 1200 Increasing Increasing
Bulgaria Present 3200 Decreasing Decreasing
Croatia Present 5430 Stable Increasing
Czech Republic Present 1574 Decreasing Decreasing
Denmark Present 105 Stable Unknown
Estonia Uncertain unknown Unknown Unknown
Finland mainland Present 12 Stable Stable
Aland Islands Present 12 Stable Stable
France mainland Present 24875 Decreasing Unknown
Germany Present 1170 Decreasing Decreasing
Hungary Present 2430 Stable Stable
Ireland Present 50 Stable Stable
Italy mainland Present 2223 Stable Stable
Latvia Present 62 Decreasing Decreasing
Lithuania Present 1500 Decreasing Decreasing
Luxembourg Present unknown Unknown Unknown
Netherlands Present 64 Decreasing Decreasing
Poland Present 738 Decreasing Decreasing
Portugal mainland Present 8 Unknown Increasing
Romania Present 6050 Stable Stable
Slovakia Present 2133 Decreasing Stable
Slovenia Present 286 Stable Stable
Spain mainland Present 485 Decreasing Decreasing
Sweden Present unknown Unknown Unknown
United Kingdom Present 5000 Decreasing Stable
Northern Island Present 5000 Decreasing Stable
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 2260 Decreasing Decreasing
Kaliningrad Uncertain unknown Unknown Unknown
Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Present 40 Decreasing Stable
Norway Mainland Present 177 Decreasing Decreasing
Svalbard Uncertain 177 Decreasing Decreasing
Serbia Uncertain unknown Unknown Unknown
Switzerland Present 100 Decreasing Stable
Montenegro Present 186 Unknown Unknown
Kosovo 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 6162400 16975 59075 No data for Sweden
EU28+ 17679 61661 No data for Sweden
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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