Red List habitat classification > RLH - Sparsely vegetated habitats > RLH3.1c Temperate, lowland to montane siliceous inland cliff

Temperate, lowland to montane siliceous inland cliff

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLH3.1c
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)

Summary

Siliceous (rich in quartz and silicate minerals such as mica or feldspar) rock walls and cliffs in the nemoral biogeographic domain except those in the high mountains and in the sea spray coastal zone. Siliceous cliffs consist chiefly of metamorphic more or less acid rocks such as slate, schist, gneiss and quartzite, sedimentary rock such as sandstone, or of igneous rocks such as granite, porphyry and diorite. Non-calcareous but more or less base-rich igneous volcanic rocks such as andesite, trachyte and basalt are also included. The vegetation in the rock fissures and crevices consists of vascular plants such as small ferns, succulents and rosulate herbs, on the rock surface also mosses and hepatics, crustose (e.g. Aspicilia, Lecanora, Lecidea s.l., Lepraria, Pertusaria, Rhizocarpon, Rinodina, Trapelia) and foliose lichens (e.g. Parmelia s.l. Umbilicaria), further epi- and endolithic micro-algae and other micro-organisms. Asplenium, Dianthus, Saxifraga, Sedum and Silene are important vascular plant genera in extra-alpine temperate siliceous cliffs. Among the mosses the genera Hedwigia, Grimmia, Racomitrium and Schistidium are particularly common on siliceous rocks, the latter three are species-rich.

Temperate lowland to montane siliceous cliffs are generally rather poor in plant species (but may be rich in lichens). The species composition depends on the biogeographic (thermic and oceanic) position, on rock type, humidity and water availability. Several species are considered glacial relicts.

The habitat type occurs throughout nemoral Europe from the British Isles and Northwest Spain to the Caucasus and the Ural Mountains and probably much further into Central Asia. It is particularly well-known in Galicia (Spain), the Massif Central, the slate-dominated suboceanic Rhenish Massif and generally in the Central European Uplands, where it is represented by gneiss and granitic rocks of the Rheno-Hercynian zone. The slate-dominated parts of the Carpathian Mountains are another main area of temperate montane siliceous cliffs.

Indicators of good quality:

Temperate lowland to montane siliceous cliffs is a habitat of high phytogeographical significance. Although not species-rich it harbours rare species and disjunct populations including many relict cryptogams of nordic-alpine distribution. There are also a few narrow endemics such as in the northwest Iberian Peninsula and in the Carpathians.  Habitat quality must be assessed at regional level and in view of the ecoregional variation. It is crucial to consider bryophytes and lichens. The occurrence of rare and relict species is a main criterion.

The following characteristics may be used as indicators of favourable quality:

  • Occurrence of rare species of lichens, bryophytes, ferns and phytogeographically significant vascular plant taxa,
  • Presence of sizable open exposed rock and of different aspects of rock walls, different exposure to insolation, moisture and rock structures such as vertical rock faces, overhangs, cavities, rock shelters, and ledges
  • Contact with natural habitats such as screes, boulder fields, rock shrubs and pioneer grasslands
  • Absence of quarrying and control structures
  • Absence of garbage dumping and nutrient input from above the cliff
  • Absence of rock climbing facilities

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

In spite of a variable quality among the reported territorial data and a lack of data from non EU28 Balkan States, the calculated trends seem to be reliable. The calculated decreases in quality and quantity are well below the thresholds to qualify for a Near Threatened status. Therefore, the overall Red List status is Least Concern.
EU
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Least Concern -
Europe
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Least Concern -

Confidence in the assessment

medium
Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • Mining, extraction of materials and energy production
    • Mining and quarrying
    • Open cast mining
  • Human intrusions and disturbances
    • Outdoor sports and leisure activities, recreational activities
    • Mountaineering & rock climbing
  • Pollution
    • Air pollution, air-borne pollutants
  • Natural biotic and abiotic processes (without catastrophes)
    • Biocenotic evolution, succession
  • Climate change
    • Changes in abiotic conditions

Habitat restoration potential

Once completely destroyed, the habitat has almost no capacity to recover, as it's origin is dependent on geomorphological processes. In the case of damage without destruction of sites, at least for plants, the natural recovery of this habitat is rather fast when it is not isolated from similar habitats. The recolonization of sites by poor disperser among specialised plants and breeding birds after strong disturbances may take longer.

Trends in extent

Average current trend in quantity

Stable Stable
EU28 EU28+

Trends in quality

Average current trend in quality

Stable Stable
EU28 EU28+

Conservation and management needs

Lowland siliceous cliffs are important natural habitats in low mountain ranges and hilly landscapes. Therefore, no specific management measures are required except avoiding disturbance and destruction of sites. The protection of those habitats and corresponding species is realised best in protected areas, where natural processes are allowed to take place without any restrictions. To avoid further loss and deterioration of sites, these habitats have to be incorporated more strongly in spatial development planning.

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to spatial planning
    • Other marine-related measures
    • Establish protected areas/sites
    • 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)
Austria Present 25 Stable Decreasing
Belgium Present 0.7 Decreasing Decreasing
Bulgaria Present Unknown Decreasing Decreasing
Croatia Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Czech Republic Present 20 Decreasing Stable
Estonia Uncertain - -
France mainland Present 100 Decreasing Decreasing
Germany Present 30 Decreasing Decreasing
Hungary Present 1 Stable Stable
Ireland Present 32 Unknown Stable
Italy mainland Present 14 Decreasing Stable
Latvia Uncertain - -
Lithuania Present 0.5 Decreasing Decreasing
Luxembourg Uncertain - -
Poland Present 0.9 Decreasing Unknown
Slovakia Present 3 Unknown Decreasing
Slovenia Present 10 Stable Stable
Spain mainland Present 6.4 Decreasing Stable
United Kingdom Present 400 Increasing 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)
Albania Uncertain - -
Bosnia and Herzegovina Present 5 Decreasing Stable
Kosovo Uncertain - -
Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Montenegro Uncertain - -
Serbia Uncertain - -
Switzerland Present 235 Decreasing Decreasing

Extent of Occurrence, Area of Occupancy and habitat area

Extent of Occurrence (EOO) (Km2) Area of Occupancy (AOO) Current estimated Total Area Comment
EU28 5558800 3127 654 no data from Estonia, Latvia, Luxembourg
EU28+ 3145 894 no data from Estonia, Latvia, Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia
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.
Ferns Polypodium vulgare
Ferns Woodsia ilvensis
Flowering Plants Achillea chamaemelifolia
Flowering Plants Asarina procumbens
Flowering Plants Aurinia saxatilis subsp. saxatilis
Flowering Plants Coincya monensis subsp. cheiranthos
Flowering Plants Epilobium collinum
Flowering Plants Hieracium schmidtii
Flowering Plants Jovibarba heuffelii
Flowering Plants Leucanthemum monspeliense
Flowering Plants Minuartia recurva subsp. recurva
Flowering Plants Primula minima
Flowering Plants Sempervivum calcareum
Flowering Plants Veronica bachofenii
Mosses & Liverworts Bartramia halleriana
Mosses & Liverworts Bartramia pomiformis
Mosses & Liverworts Coscinodon cribrosus
Mosses & Liverworts Dicranum scoparium
Mosses & Liverworts Hypnum cupressiforme
Mosses & Liverworts Isopterygiopsis muelleriana
Mosses & Liverworts Isothecium alopecuroides
Mosses & Liverworts Polytrichum piliferum
Mosses & Liverworts Ptychomitrium incurvum
Mosses & Liverworts Ptychomitrium polyphyllum
Species scientific name English common name Species group
Polypodium vulgare Ferns
Woodsia ilvensis Ferns
Achillea chamaemelifolia Flowering Plants
Asarina procumbens Flowering Plants
Aurinia saxatilis subsp. saxatilis Flowering Plants
Coincya monensis subsp. cheiranthos Flowering Plants
Epilobium collinum Flowering Plants
Hieracium schmidtii Flowering Plants
Jovibarba heuffelii Flowering Plants
Leucanthemum monspeliense Flowering Plants
Minuartia recurva subsp. recurva Flowering Plants
Primula minima Flowering Plants
Sempervivum calcareum Flowering Plants
Veronica bachofenii Flowering Plants
Bartramia halleriana Mosses & Liverworts
Bartramia pomiformis Mosses & Liverworts
Coscinodon cribrosus Mosses & Liverworts
Dicranum scoparium Mosses & Liverworts
Hypnum cupressiforme Mosses & Liverworts
Isopterygiopsis muelleriana Mosses & Liverworts
Isothecium alopecuroides Mosses & Liverworts
Polytrichum piliferum Mosses & Liverworts
Ptychomitrium incurvum Mosses & Liverworts
Ptychomitrium polyphyllum Mosses & Liverworts

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 H3.1 Acid siliceous inland cliffs narrower
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