Red List habitat classification > RLG - Forests > RLG3.B Pinus sylvestris taiga woodland

Pinus sylvestris taiga woodland

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLG3.B
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)


This is forest vegetation of sub-xeric, xeric and barren sites on mineral soils in the boreal and boreonemoral zones. The soils are usually podzolic with a raw humus layer. The tree canopy is almost always dominated by Pinus sylvestris, but mixed forests and even stands dominated by Betula pendula, B. pubescens or Picea abies can be found. Canopy composition is nowadays usually regulated by forestry. Alnus incana, Populus tremula, Salix caprea and Sorbus aucuparia may occur as individual trees usually on sub-xeric sites. Juniperus communis is common, but other shrubs, like Salix phylicifolia and S. starkeana, rarely occur. The understorey vegetation is dominated by dwarf shrubs, the most abundant species being Calluna vulgaris, Empetrum nigrum, Vaccinium myrtillus and V. vitis-idaea. In the middle and northern boreal subzones V. uliginosum, Diphasiastrum complanatum and Ledum palustre are common. Towards the north, the abundance of V. myrtillus and E. nigrum increases and the abundance of V. vitis-idaea decreases. Herb and grass species are few, and they are usually entirely missing from barren sites. Convallaria majalis, Epilobium angustifolium, Maianthemum bifolium , Pteridium aquilinum, Solidago virgaurea and Trientalis europaea are the most common herbs, but their small and pale shoots are often sterile. Antennaria dioica thrives on xeric sites. Graminoids include Calamagrostis epigejos, Deschampsia flexuosa, Festuca ovina and Luzula pilosa, but they are seldom abundant. In stands of this forest type on eskers there is some specialist flora, e.g. Oxytropis campestris and Thymys serpyllum. The ground layer is continuous. On sub-xeric sites, it is dominated by feather mosses, on barren sites by lichens. The number of moss, liverwort and lichen species increases towards the northern boreal subzone. The most dominant moss species are Hylocomium splendens and Pleurozium schreberi, followed by Dicranum polysetum, D. scoparium and Polytrichum juniperinum. In the northern boreal subzone, Dicranum drummondii and D. fuscescens are also common. Dominant lichens include Cladina arbuscula, C. mitis, C. rangiferina, C. stellaris, Cetraria islandica and Stereocaulon spp. In addition, on xeric and barren sites there usually are numerous Cladonia species. After a major disturbance such as forest fire, windfall or regeneration cutting, grasses usually increase moderately, bryophytes decrease and lichens increase.

Indicators of good quality:

• Natural composition of canopy

• Structural diversity/ -complexity with (semi)natural age structure or completeness of layers

• Typical flora and fauna composition of the region

• Presence of old trees and a variety of dead wood (lying or standing) and the associated flora, fauna and fungi

• Presence of natural disturbance with natural regeneration

• Long historical continuity (ancient woodland) with high species diversity

• Survival of larger stands of forest without anthropogenic fragmentation and isolation (to support fauna which need large undisturbed forests)

• Absence of non-native species in all layers (flora & fauna)

• No signs of eutrophication or pollution

• No signs of acidification (relevant mainly for oligotrophic or acidic types)

• No man-induced very high population levels of ungulates

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

The habitat is assessed as Least Concern (LC) under criterion A1 in both EU28 and EU28+, as there has been only a small decline in its quantity within the last 50 years. The area of the habitat is currently stable in some and declining in other countries of Europe. There has also been a slight reduction in the quality of this habitat, leading to the same category (Least Concern) under criterion C/D1. The habitat quality continues to decrease throughout Europe. A more severe decline in quality has occurred already before the 1960's, but data on this decline are not available.
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
    • Forestry clearance
    • Removal of dead and dying trees
    • Thinning of tree layer
  • Natural System modifications
    • Lack of fires
  • Climate change
    • Habitat shifting and alteration

Habitat restoration potential

The habitat has a capacity to recover naturally after a severe damage, but a full recovery including deadwood and species which are dependent on it will take a very long time. The rate of recovery is also dependent on the extent of the damaged area. Measures like prescribed burning, planting trees or sowing tree seeds and adding artificial deadwood is likely to fasten the process considerably.

Trends in extent

Average current trend in quantity

Decreasing Decreasing
EU28 EU28+

Trends in quality

Average current trend in quality

Decreasing Decreasing
EU28 EU28+

Conservation and management needs

Current most common approaches involve establishing protected areas/sites, establishing wilderness areas/allowing succession, restoring/improving forest habitats and adaptation of forest management. Additional actions needed include further optimizing the use of funds for conservation (what kind of areas are chosen for conservation and where, conservation of all successional stages (protection of natural old forests, creating (simulated) young successional stages of natural forests), increasing prescribed burning and simulated forest fires, further developing methods for conservation/nature management in managed forests (e.g. deadwood), control of overgrazing and control of climate change.

List of conservation and management needs

  • 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


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)
Estonia Present 440 Unknown Decreasing
Finland mainland Present 45645 Decreasing Decreasing
Aland Islands Present 45645 Decreasing Decreasing
Latvia Present 8690 Decreasing Decreasing
Lithuania Present 1100 Decreasing Decreasing
Sweden Present 68355 Decreasing Decreasing
Poland Present 250 Unknown Unknown
EU28 + Present or presence uncertain Current area of habitat (Km2) Recent trend in quantity (last 50 years) Recent trend in quality (last 50 years)
Norway Mainland Present 39395 Decreasing 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 1307350 5153 124480
EU28+ 5586 163875
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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1050 Copenhagen K
Phone: +45 3336 7100