Red List habitat classification > RLG - Forests > RLG2.7 Macaronesian heathy woodland

Macaronesian heathy woodland

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLG2.7
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

The habitat type comprises successionally mature, zonal microforests of Madeira and the Canary Islands with a luxuriant canopy 3 to 12m tall, dominated by one or more of Erica canariensis Rivas Mart., M. Osório & Wildpret (=E. arborea sensu auct. mad & can. and not E. arborea L.), E. platycodon subsp. platycodon (Canarian) or E. platycodon subsp. maderincola (Madeiran) usually with some broadleafs, including Lauraceae. Heath scrub, even if arborescent, that is pioneer, seral or secondary to mature forest, is not included here but placed in F4.3 Macaronesian heath, vegetation typical of cambisols with mor humus. Four distinct subtypes of these primary woodlands can be recognized with notable stretches of types 2 and 4 on Tenerife (Anaga) , Gomera and La Palma.

1. Madeiran, upper mesotemperate to supratemperate, hyper-humid tree-heath forests above the

upper limit of laurel forest from ca. 1500 up to 1862m, on andosols or cambisols, with absolute dominance of heaths reaching up to 12m tall, either E. canariensis or E. platycodon subsp. maderincola (Polysticho falcinelli-Ericion canariensis). Intense cold probably excludes laurels but there can be some other broadleafs (Vaccinium padifolium, Sorbus maderensis) and endemics in the understorey and clearings (e.g. Teucrium francoi, Odontites holliana, Polystichum falcinellum). In pristine stands, Juniperus cedrus subsp. maderensis used to be much more abundant in the forest, having been subsequently cut for timber and charcoal and now surviving as sparse individuals.

2. Tree-heath/Canarian holly forests of the sub-humid to humid mesomediterranean zone on rocky outcrops, but under almost permanent heavy fogs such that the thin soils with low water-holding capacity are kept permanently wet. These forests are co-dominated by Erica platycodon subsp. platycodon and elements of the Canarian laurel forest (Ixantho-Laurion), e.g. Laurus novocanariensis Rivas Mart. et al. (=Laurus azorica sensu auct. can. non (Seub.) Franco), Viburnum tinus subsp. rugosum and Ilex canariensis var. canariensis..

3. Madeiran equivalents of type 2 have Erica platycodon subsp. maderincola, madeiran blueberries (Vaccinium padifolium) and elements of the madeiran laurel forest (Sibthorpio-Clethrion) on deep cambisols.

4. On west Canaries with a dry to subhumid thermomediterranean climate, there are tree heath/ Canarian strawberry tree microforests dominated by Arbutus canariensis, Erica canariensis, Ilex canariensis var. canariensis with Visnea mocanera and Syderoxylon marmulano. Madeiran strawberry tree forests have no large tree-heath individuals.

Indicators of quality:

  • Closed canopy layer and richness of both dominant and understory characteristic taxa.
  • Large gaps in crown layer occurring naturally by death of individual trees or sometimes mass movements of soil in steep slopes.
  • No tendency to dominance by shrub thickets of E. platycodon subsp. pl., Teline sp. pl., Cistus symphytifolius, C. monspeliensis, Globularia salicina, Carlina sp. pl. or tall perennial grasses (Hyparrhenia sinaica, H. podotricha).
  • Absence of invasive aliens such as Cytisus scoparius, Ulex europaeus and Leptospermum scoparius or even Australian wattles (Acacia sp. pl.), taking advantage of gaps or wildfires.
  • Absence of trampling by humans.

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

In the past 50 years, an increase in area has occurred and this trend is likely to continue in the future. Nevertheless, the habitat type qualifies as Vulnerable (VU) under criterion A3 due to evidence for a large-scale historical loss in area in the more distant past (since the XVI to XVIII centuries on), which surely has been larger than 50%.
EU
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Vulnerable A3
Europe
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Vulnerable A3

Confidence in the assessment

medium
Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • Agriculture
    • Cultivation
    • Grazing
    • Non intensive sheep grazing
    • Non intensive goat grazing
  • Sylviculture, forestry
    • Forest replanting
    • Forest replanting (non native trees)
  • Urbanisation, residential and commercial development
    • Urbanised areas, human habitation
    • Dispersed habitation
    • Agricultural structures, buildings in the landscape
  • Invasive, other problematic species and genes
    • Invasive non-native species
  • Geological events, natural catastrophes
    • Fire (natural)
  • Climate change
    • Temperature changes (e.g. rise of temperature & extremes)
    • Droughts and less precipitations
    • Habitat shifting and alteration
    • Desynchronisation of processes
    • Decline or extinction of species
    • Migration of species (natural newcomers)

Habitat restoration potential

As a mature forest occurring in steep rocky slopes under frequent fogs, depending on the extent of damage, it will count on ecological succession to establish a comparable state in terms of structure, composition and function (mature closed forest). If the soil was not severely eroded and disturbance regimes causing disruption will cease, it is expected that forest species (tree-heaths) will be able to establish and be ecologically dominant again in a time span of several decades to a century. Silvicultural practices of elimination of dominant individual trees might accelerate tree succession towards mature laurel forests. Otherwise, succession through self-thinning will take longer although the risk of a transformation into a somewhat artificial habitat (the former option) is much reduced.

Trends in extent

Average current trend in quantity

Increasing Increasing
EU28 EU28+

Trends in quality

Average current trend in quality

Stable Stable
EU28 EU28+

Conservation and management needs

The maintenance of local, regional, national and EU-wide conservation statuses, as well as the maintenance of actually protected areas and management practices, will guarantee the persistence of the habitat. In addition, the elimination of alien plants that are frequent in secondary laurel forest should be sought. The reconversion of former exotic afforestations to heath-forest would lead, by succession, to secondary heath forest that gradually would incorporate characteristic species resulting in a raising of the habitat quality. The protection against wildfires and urbanization pressures should be as strict as possible.

List of conservation and management needs

  • No measures
    • No measures needed for the conservation of the habitat/species
  • Measures related to forests and wooded habitats
    • Restoring/Improving forest habitats
  • Measures related to spatial planning
    • Establishing wilderness areas/allowing succession
    • Legal protection of habitats and species

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)
Portugal Azores Present 63 Unknown Increasing
Madeira Present 63 Unknown Increasing
Canary Islands Present 6.3 Stable 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)

Extent of Occurrence, Area of Occupancy and habitat area

Extent of Occurrence (EOO) (Km2) Area of Occupancy (AOO) Current estimated Total Area Comment
EU28 89100 46 69
EU28+ 46 69
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 cedrus
Ferns Diplazium caudatum
Ferns Dryopteris aemula
Ferns Polystichum drepanum
Ferns Pteris incompleta
Flowering Plants Arbutus canariensis
Flowering Plants Arum italicum
Flowering Plants Berberis maderensis
Flowering Plants Cedronella canariensis
Flowering Plants Cirsium latifolium
Flowering Plants Clethra arborea
Flowering Plants Cytisus scoparius
Flowering Plants Euphorbia mellifera
Flowering Plants Goodyera macrophylla
Flowering Plants Heberdenia excelsa
Flowering Plants Hypericum inodorum
Flowering Plants Ilex canariensis
Flowering Plants Ilex perado
Flowering Plants Laurus azorica
Flowering Plants Myrica faya
Flowering Plants Odontites holliana
Flowering Plants Persea indica
Flowering Plants Picconia excelsa
Flowering Plants Pittosporum coriaceum
Flowering Plants Pleiomeris canariensis
Flowering Plants Ranunculus cortusifolius
Flowering Plants Rhamnus glandulosa
Flowering Plants Semele androgyna
Flowering Plants Sibthorpia peregrina
Flowering Plants Smilax canariensis
Flowering Plants Sorbus maderensis
Flowering Plants Teucrium abutiloides
Flowering Plants Teucrium betonicum
Flowering Plants Ulex europaeus
Flowering Plants Viburnum tinus
Flowering Plants Visnea mocanera
Species scientific name English common name Species group
Juniperus cedrus Conifers
Diplazium caudatum Ferns
Dryopteris aemula Ferns
Polystichum drepanum Ferns
Pteris incompleta Ferns
Arbutus canariensis Flowering Plants
Arum italicum Flowering Plants
Berberis maderensis Flowering Plants
Cedronella canariensis Flowering Plants
Cirsium latifolium Flowering Plants
Clethra arborea Flowering Plants
Cytisus scoparius Flowering Plants
Euphorbia mellifera Flowering Plants
Goodyera macrophylla Flowering Plants
Heberdenia excelsa Flowering Plants
Hypericum inodorum Flowering Plants
Ilex canariensis Flowering Plants
Ilex perado Flowering Plants
Laurus azorica Flowering Plants
Myrica faya Flowering Plants
Odontites holliana Flowering Plants
Persea indica Flowering Plants
Picconia excelsa Flowering Plants
Pittosporum coriaceum Flowering Plants
Pleiomeris canariensis Flowering Plants
Ranunculus cortusifolius Flowering Plants
Rhamnus glandulosa Flowering Plants
Semele androgyna Flowering Plants
Sibthorpia peregrina Flowering Plants
Smilax canariensis Flowering Plants
Sorbus maderensis Flowering Plants
Teucrium abutiloides Flowering Plants
Teucrium betonicum Flowering Plants
Ulex europaeus Flowering Plants
Viburnum tinus Flowering Plants
Visnea mocanera Flowering Plants

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 G2.7 Canary Island heath woodland same
European Environment Agency (EEA)
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