Red List habitat classification > RLH - Sparsely vegetated habitats > RLH3.1d Mediterranean siliceous inland cliff

Mediterranean siliceous inland cliff

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLH3.1d
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)


Siliceous (rich in quartz and silicate minerals, such as feldspar or mica) rock walls and cliffs in the Mediterranean, with cliff-dwelling vascular plants (chasmophytes), bryophytes, lichens, epi- and endolithic micro-organisms. Siliceous cliffs chiefly consist of igneous rocks, such as granite, diorite and andesite, or of metamorphic rocks, such as gneiss, slate, schist and quartzite. The ability of plants to root in siliceous cliffs depends on the rock texture, schistosity, moisture content and chemistry. Perennial herbs prevail, many as cushion or rosulate plants, some are succulent. Other common chasmophytes are dwarf shrubs and small ferns. Well represented genera of vascular plants in siliceous inland cliffs all over the Mediterranean are Asplenium, Hieracium and Saxifraga.

Siliceous inland cliffs are less common in the Mediterranean than calcareous cliffs but also rich in rare and/or endemic plants. Plant communities are numerous and, like many of their species, frequently restricted to a single mountain range, larger islands or cliff systems. Overall variation in species composition follows chiefly phyto-geographical patterns and reflects evolutionary history.  Local variations are typically due to the rock type, exposition, moisture and cliff height. Many species are poor dispersers and plant communities require long time to establish. Most of the characteristic species are not found in anthropogenic habitats, such as walls.

Mediterranean siliceous inland cliffs occur in the western, southern, central and eastern parts of the Iberian peninsula, southern France, Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, southern Italy, Albania, Greece, a few Aegean islands (e.g. Samothraki), and Mediterranean Turkey. Included are all levels from the Mediterranean coastal areas to the high mountains.

Indicators of quality:

Mediterranean siliceous inland cliffs harbour many local and regional endemics. Populations of such species indicate high habitat quality. As there is much regional variation in chasmophytic vegetation and species richness the habitat quality of a local cliff or cliff system must be seen in relation to the regional chasmophytic species pool: the higher the proportion, the better the quality. Cliff habitats are naturally protected due to their poor accessibility but they may be destroyed through rock control structures and quarrying. Abandoned siliceous quarries are generally, even after decades, much poorer in species and lower habitat quality compared to the natural cliffs.

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

• Occurrence of a representative set of rare species, in particular narrow or regional endemics

• Presence of different aspects of rock walls, different exposure, 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

The habitat qualifies for a Least Concern status (LC) since no reduction in quantity occurred over the last 50 years. Quality trends (past, historical and future) cannot be estimated due to the lacking of data/information.
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

  • Mining, extraction of materials and energy production
    • Mining and quarrying
  • Transportation and service corridors
    • Roads, paths and railroads
    • Tunnel
  • Human intrusions and disturbances
    • Outdoor sports and leisure activities, recreational activities
    • Mountaineering, rock climbing, speleology
    • Mountaineering & rock climbing
    • Recreational cave visits
    • Other human intrusions and disturbances
    • Fences, fencing
  • Invasive, other problematic species and genes
    • Invasive non-native species

Habitat restoration potential

Unless physically destroyed, recovery of a cliff is possible provided that it is potentially connected with similar environments and that the natural geo-morphological processes are not hampered. As many plants of this habitat type are poor dispersers, the species composition is expected to remain impoverished even after initial recovery.

Trends in extent

Average current trend in quantity

Stable Stable
EU28 EU28+

Trends in quality

Average current trend in quality

Unknown Unknown
EU28 EU28+

Conservation and management needs

The best management action for this highly natural habitat is to leave it simply untouched, just avoiding any human interference with its natural processes. Luckily, cliffs are mostly falling within protected areas. Information about the biological value of this habitat to the potential “users”, e.g. climbers, should be extensively provided. Increase public awareness about the biological relevance of such apparently inhospitable environments is important in order to make more effective conservation efforts.

List of conservation and management needs

  • No measures
    • No measures needed for the conservation of the habitat/species
  • Measures related to spatial planning
    • Manage landscape features


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)
Cyprus Uncertain unknown Unknown Unknown
France mainland Present 25 Unknown Stable
Corsica Present 25 Unknown Stable
Greece (mainland and other islands) Present 3 Unknown Unknown
East Aegean Uncertain 3 Unknown Unknown
Italy mainland Present unknown Unknown Stable
Sardinia Present unknown Unknown Stable
Sicily Present unknown Unknown Stable
Portugal mainland Present 35 Unknown Increasing
Portugal Azores Uncertain 35 Unknown Increasing
Madeira Uncertain 35 Unknown Increasing
Savage Islands Uncertain 35 Unknown Increasing
Spain mainland Present 176 Unknown Stable
Balearic Islands Present 176 Unknown Stable
Canary Islands Uncertain 176 Unknown 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 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 1939100 1264 239
EU28+ 1264 239
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
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