Red List habitat classification > RLG - Forests > RLG3.9a Taxus baccata woodland

Taxus baccata woodland

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLG3.9a
Threat status
Europe Least Concern
EU Least Concern
Relation to
Source European Red List habitat factsheet
European Red List of habitats reports
European Red List of habitats (Excel table)


Taxus baccata is an evergreen tree which figures as a prominent associate in various woodland types on more base-rich substrates, a bird-sown species capable of establishing in rocky terrain or in grasslands, provided those herbivores to which its foliage is palatable are absent, and persisting under the shade, even dense shade, of other trees, notably Fagus sylvatica, sometimes also Abies alba and Picea abies, which can overtop it. Those situations are included elsewhere, as in G1.6a Fagus woodland on non-acid soils. This G3.9a habitat includes two distinct types of woodland united by the dominance of Taxus baccata: one occurs very locally in the Mediterranean, particularly in Corsica and Sardinia, Apennines, Spain and northern and central Portugal; the other occurs in Ireland and the British Isles, where the woodland type strongly favours those locally hot drought-prone south-facing slopes which provide an echo of conditions on limestones in warmer latitudes. In both situations, the stands are typically isolated and there is often a suggestion (particularly in the Mediterranean) that the dominance of the tree is an accident of succession where, for some reason, Taxus has excluded possible subsequent invaders or remains as a relict senescent phase of some kind of beech forest. For the British, the fact that Taxus provided the wood for the longbow, enabling some epic victories over its foes, has entered national mythology, but some stands may really have been encouraged for supplying this important medieval weapon. Widely through Europe, by virtue of its longevity, Taxus and its woodlands have also been endowed with spiritual value and protected. In the woodland included here, Taxus is the sole dominant, though often accompanied in the Mediterranean stands by Ilex aquifolium and Buxus sempervirens (in the UK the latter is questionably native). Sorbus aria is another typical associate in both regions. Juniperus communis, which is among the junipers associated with other kinds of G3.9 Cupressaceae woodlands, is the seral precursor and protective nurse to Taxus where this kind of habitat establishes in basiphilous grasslands in the UK, its skeletal remains then remaining beneath each maturing Taxus. Otherwise there is often no understorey, apart from occasional Sambucus nigra, favouring the latrines of local rabbit colonies. The extremely dense shade cast by the Taxus canopy can exclude all but the most tolerant herbs and bryophytes, among which sparse and puny individuals of Mercurialis perennis and other representatives of the local basiphilous woodland flora are typical.

Indicators of good quality:

• Dominance of Taxus baccata in the canopy

• Typical flora and fauna composition of the region

• 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

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

• Low game density to enable Taxus regeneration

• Absence of non-native tree species and absence of invasive aliens in all layers (fauna, flora)

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

Overall, there are few data to provide an overall assessment of the condition of this habitat but what little there is points to Least Concern. It includes woodlands in far-flung regions with very different extent in different countries and with differing estimates of change in extent and quality in the recent past. However, with some marginal countries having small extent and in a vulnerable state, there could be a critical loss of AOO. This fragmentation and small total cover make this habitat vulnerable to future threats.
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Least Concern -
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Least Concern -

Confidence in the assessment

Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • Sylviculture, forestry
    • Grazing in forests/ woodland
  • Invasive, other problematic species and genes
    • Invasive non-native species
  • Natural System modifications
    • Fire and fire suppression
    • Burning down
  • Climate change
    • Changes in abiotic conditions
    • Droughts and less precipitations

Habitat restoration potential

The slow growth of Taxus baccata makes the habitat unable to rapidly recover after severe damage such as a fire or a clear-cut. Plantation and fencing are required to facilitate the recovery. In the long term competition with other species has to be assessed.

Trends in extent

Average current trend in quantity

Decreasing Unknown
EU28 EU28+

Trends in quality

Average current trend in quality

Unknown Unknown
EU28 EU28+

Conservation and management needs

The main conservation requirement is fencing the habitat in order to prevent livestock from grazing so as to protect the regeneration of yew. Fire control and management is also required. A more even population structure can also increase the capacity of the habitat to adapt to new climatic conditions.

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to forests and wooded habitats
    • Other forestry-related measures
    • Restoring/Improving forest 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)
Croatia Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
France mainland Present 0.1 Stable Increasing
Ireland Present 0.8 Increasing Increasing
Sardinia Present 14 Decreasing Stable
Sicily Present 14 Decreasing Stable
Greece (mainland and other islands) Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Portugal mainland Present 1 Unknown Stable
Spain mainland Present 35 Decreasing Decreasing
United Kingdom Present 20 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)
Bosnia and Herzegovina Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Serbia 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 4172450 204 71
EU28+ 210 71
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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