Temperate subalpine Larix, Pinus cembra and Pinus uncinata woodland
|Red List habitat type||code RLG3.2|
|Source||European Red List habitat factsheet|
|European Red List of habitats reports|
|European Red List of habitats (Excel table)|
This habitat consist of coniferous woodlands of the mid sub-alpine belt in high mountains of the temperate zone, forming the tree-line at 1,500 m Asl and above in the Carpathians and reaching 2,400 m Asl in the Alps and the Pyrenees. At these altitudes, the growing season is becoming so short and cold that the limit for tree growth is approached. Snow is long-lasting but not deep enough to favour willow shrub and tall-herb vegetation. Pinus uncinata can also be found in lower mountain ranges (such as Jura) on clifs or rocks exposed to harsh weather conditions. In the Pyrenees Mountains, only Pinus uncinata woodlands can be found. Depending on the habitat variant, the main dominant trees can be Larch (Larix decidua), Arolla pine (P. Cembra) and/or Mountain Pine (Pinus uncinata). Larch and Arolla pine only occur in the Alps and the Carpathians. Larch is often dominant in pastured wood, and Arolla Pine in more mature stands. In the Southern Alps and the Carpathians, Mountain dwarf pine (P. mugo) is often in the understorey. Where this dwarf pine dominates towards the upper sub-alpine belt, the vegetation is included in F 2.4 subalpine shrub. Included are also perialpine river valleys with Pinus forests of Pinus mugo s.l. (erect forms including P. x rhaetica) and/ or Pinus uncinata as rare relict forests reaching lower altitudes in the alpine river valleys. Sorbus spp. are characteristic associates in the canopy with S. aucuparia, S. aria, S. mougeotii and S. chamaemespilus, often along with some Picea abies and Abies alba (never dominant). The woodland structure is often rather clustered, open and lightly shading but the part- or wholly-evergreen dwarf-shrubs typical beneath often grow so dense that herbs can be sparse. Among these dwarf-shrubs, Vaccinium myrtillus, V. vitis-idaea, V. uliginosum, Juniperus nana (= J. sibirica) occur throughout the range. Arctostaphylos uva-ursi and Cotoneaster integerrimus can be found on warmer slopes. Erica carnea occurs outside the higher Alps on northern slopes. Rhododendron spp. is more restricted: R. ferrugineum and R. hirsutum in various parts of the Alps and the former in the Pyrenees, R. myrtifolium in the Carpathians, together with Daphne oleoides. Where the cover of these dwarf-shrubs exceeds the trees and the tree cover becomes rather open, the vegetation is included in F2.2a Alpine and sub-alpine ericoid heath. These woodlands occur on a variety of rock types with different soils which, along with the contrasts in climate across the range, sustain a diversity of field layers, the distinctiveness of the flora increasing to the south. Graminoids are common and, in moist hollows and seepages, a contingent of montane tall-herbs is characteristic (Calamagrostis villosa, Luzula albida, L. sieberi, Festuca flavescens, F. drymaeia...). Subalpine and alpine plants such as Homogyne alpina or Dryas octopetala are also characteristic.
Indicators of quality:
- Tree-line at its natural limit with intact woodland structure.
- Sufficient structural diversity/ complexity (semi)natural age structure or completeness of layers.
- Presence of old trees and a variety of dead wood (lying and standing) and the associated flora, fauna and fungi.
- Typical flora and fauna composition of the region.
- Sufficient proportion of historically old (ancient) woodland with high species diversity.
- Survival of larger stands of forest without fragmentation and isolation.
- Absence of non-native tree species and absence of invasive aliens in all layers (fauna, flora).
- No signs of impacts of alpine pasturing.
- Absence of damage from trampling, skiing lanes and avalanches around winter sports centre.
Synthesis of Red List assessment
An assessment based on more precise data could have possibly led to the VU category, because even if the situation is probably close to stability in France, the quality is also decreasing in Austria. Even if a future trend is not possible to determine, studies about climate change impact on vegetation already show a shift in altitude for subalpine species and climate change is probably going to affect more subalpine habitats than lower altitudes one, both in quality and quantity (replacement of larch and Pine by Spruce and Fir at lower altitudes). Finally, some subtypes can be more endangered than others (Larch subtypes).
|Red List Category||Red List Criteria|
|Red List Category||Red List Criteria|
Confidence in the assessment
Pressures and threats
- Intensive sheep grazing
- Sylviculture, forestry
- Forest replanting
- Forestry clearance
- Transportation and service corridors
- Roads, paths and railroads
- Human intrusions and disturbances
- Skiing complex
- Air pollution, air-borne pollutants
- Climate change
- Changes in abiotic conditions
Habitat restoration potential
Trends in extent
Average current trend in quantity
Trends in quality
Average current trend in quality
Conservation and management needs
Sustainable forest management can be promoted through forest certification, in the Natura 2000 network of protected areas, public forests, and category V and VI of IUCN Protected Areas. Unlike most forest habitats, the management of some particular types of subalpine Larix woodlands (pastured Larix woods) includes moderate grazing. Grazing fosters Larch and rich undergrowth. Grazing should not occur too early, in order to avoid disturbance to birds (especially Black grouse -Tetrao tetrix- and western capercaillie -Tetrao urogallus), and is only appropriated in certain subtypes.
Even in the most sustainably managed forests, logging cuts the end of the forests cycle (the mature and veteran stands are rare, deadwood volumes can never be the same as in unmanaged forest). It stresses the need of a network of vast (more than 100 ha each) unmanaged forests, where the whole forest cycle can be fully accomplished. Those strictly protected areas should be located in categories I and II IUCN Protected Areas, and the most remarkable forests should also be protected.
To face global warming, the ability of those subalpine forests to colonize new areas on higher ground is very important, especially on present open land.
List of conservation and management needs
- Measures related to agriculture and open habitats
- Other agriculture-related measures
- 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
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)|
|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||853100||1569||5285||Current area is 5,209 kmÂ² (reported for Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain) + 76 kmÂ² for Poland according to 76 kmÂ² according to art17 report.|
|EU28+||1648||5825||Current area is 5,749 kmÂ² (reported for Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland) + 76 kmÂ² for Poland according to 76 kmÂ² according to art17 report.|
EOO = the area (km2) of the envelope around all occurrences of a habitat (calculated by a minimum convex polygon).
|Species scientific name||English common name||Species group|
|Acer pseudoplatanus||Flowering Plants|
|Arctostaphylos uva-ursi||Flowering Plants|
|Calamagrostis villosa||Flowering Plants|
|Calluna vulgaris||Flowering Plants|
|Carex alba||Flowering Plants|
|Cotoneaster integerrimus||Flowering Plants|
|Daphne mezereum||Flowering Plants|
|Daphne oleoides||Flowering Plants|
|Deschampsia flexuosa||Flowering Plants|
|Dryas octopetala||Flowering Plants|
|Erica carnea||Flowering Plants|
|Erica herbacea||Flowering Plants|
|Festuca flavescens||Flowering Plants|
|Geranium sylvaticum||Flowering Plants|
|Hieracium murorum||Flowering Plants|
|Homogyne alpina||Flowering Plants|
|Luzula albida||Flowering Plants|
|Melampyrum sylvaticum||Flowering Plants|
|Oxalis acetosella||Flowering Plants|
|Polygala chamaebuxus||Flowering Plants|
|Potentilla erecta||Flowering Plants|
|Rhododendron hirsutum||Flowering Plants|
|Rubus idaeus||Flowering Plants|
|Rubus saxatilis||Flowering Plants|
|Sesleria caerulea||Flowering Plants|
|Solidago virgaurea||Flowering Plants|
|Sorbus aucuparia||Flowering Plants|
|Vaccinium myrtillus||Flowering Plants|
|Valeriana tripteris||Flowering Plants|
Relation to other habitat types mentioned in legal instruments
Relation to vegetation types (syntaxa)Not available
|Classification||Code||Habitat type name||Relationship type|
|EUNIS Habitat Classification 200711||G3.2||Alpine Larix - Pinus cembra woodland||wider|
|EUNIS Habitat Classification 200711||G3.3||Pinus uncinata woodland||wider|