Red List habitat classification > RLH - Sparsely vegetated habitats > RLH3.2a Boreal and arctic base-rich inland cliff

Boreal and arctic base-rich inland cliff

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLH3.2a
Threat status
Europe Data Deficient
EU Data Deficient
Relation to
Source European Red List habitat factsheet
European Red List of habitats reports
European Red List of habitats (Excel table)

Summary

These are vegetated cliffs of calcareous and other base-rich rocks found in the boreal and arctic biogeographical regions, in Iceland, Svalbard, the North Sea Island groups of the Hebrides, Shetlands and Faroes, Fennoscandia, and further in northern Russia. As extensive limestone mountains are almost absent in Northern Europe, base-rich cliff habitats are confined to areas of igneous bedrock and, locally, dolomitic rocks or calcareous siltstone and beyond, though the habitat type has a circumpolar distribution in the northern Palaearctic, it is fragmented for geological reasons.  It does not include cliffs in the immediate sea spray zone (in B3.1a) or ultramafic cliffs (in H3.2e).

Boreal and arctic base-rich cliffs are important habitats for low-competitive bryophytes, lichens and specialist vascular plants and from a phytogeographic and evolutionary point of view the boreal mountains and the arctic share interesting relict Arctic-alpine plants with the Alps and the Carpathians. Nordic cliffs are poor in vascular plants but species of the genera Asplenium, Draba and Saxifraga may be gregarious in sheltered humid places, the latter especially in the alpine belt. Regional and altitudinal variation in species composition is high but among vascular plants, Asplenium viride, Woodsia glabella and Saxifraga nivalis may be regarded as characteristic for the base-rich boreal cliffs of northern and eastern Fennoscandia, although A. viride also occurs in ultrabasic cliffs.

The bryophyte component of the vegetation may be species-rich particularly in sun-averted crevices and on damp rock and is best developed in oceanic areas such as in southwestern Norway and Iceland. Numerous acrocarpous moss genera and hepatics are represented, among others Anoectangium, Didymodon, Encalypta, Grimmia, Gymnostomum, Gyroweisia, Leiocolea, Orthotrichum, Schistidium, Tortella, and Tortula and among the most abundant and widespread bryophytes are Distichium capillaceum, Ditrichum flexicaule, Encalypta streptocarpa and Tortella tortuosa. Exposed rock faces may be covered by crustose lichens (e.g. Acarospora, Caloplaca, Collema, Farnoldia, Thelidium, Polyblastia, Protoblastenia and Verrucaria) and other epilithic organisms.

Indicators of good quality

  • Occurrence of rare species of bryophytes, lichens and phytogeographically significant vascular plants, 
  • Presence of sizeable open exposed rock with species-rich bryophyte carpets and lichen crusts 
  • Variety of aspects of rock walls, exposure to insolation, moisture and rock structures such as overhangs, cavities, rock shelters, ledges
  • Contact with natural habitats such as screes, boulder fields and pioneer grasslands 
  • Absence of quarrying and control structures 
  • Absence of garbage dumping and anthropogenic nutrient input from above the cliff
  • Absence of rock climbing facilities
  • Absence of alien species

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

Despite the very good quality of Finnish data it is not possible to extrapolate them to other countries without data from at least one other country from the boreal region to get a more complete picture. Therefore this habitat type is labelled as Data Deficient (DD).
EU
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Data Deficient -
Europe
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Data Deficient -

Confidence in the assessment

low
Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • Sylviculture, forestry
    • Forest planting on open ground
    • Forest and Plantation management & use
  • Urbanisation, residential and commercial development
    • Dispersed habitation
  • Pollution
    • Nitrogen-input
  • Natural System modifications
    • Lack of fires
  • Natural biotic and abiotic processes (without catastrophes)
    • Species composition change (succession)

Habitat restoration potential

At least for generalist rock plants, the natural recovery of this habitat is possible and fast when it is not isolated from habitats of the same type. The return of specialized nesting birds after strong disturbances is less easy for example. The same applies to specialist plants of rock micro-habitats.

Trends in extent

Average current trend in quantity

Unknown Unknown
EU28 EU28+

Trends in quality

Average current trend in quality

Unknown Unknown
EU28 EU28+

Conservation and management needs

As a highly natural habitat this habitat type has no specific management requirement to remain but leaving it undisturbed and undestroyed. Conservation is then effective when free evolution is possible, like within protected areas. ‘Manage landscape features’ refers to the need to better protect this kind of habitats with a high degree of naturalness in land-use planning, especially when no specific regulation can be applied (no protected species or habitat, outside a protected area, outside a N2000 site).

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to forests and wooded habitats
    • Adapt forest management
  • Measures related to spatial planning
    • Manage landscape features

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)
Estonia Uncertain - -
Finland mainland Present 5 Decreasing Decreasing
Latvia Uncertain - -
Lithuania Uncertain - -
Sweden Present unknown Unknown Unknown
United Kingdom Present unknown 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)
Iceland Present unknown Unknown Unknown
Norway Mainland Present unknown Unknown Unknown
Svalbard Present 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 2014150 985 unknown Data are available for Finland only.
EU28+ 985 unknown Data are available for Finland only.
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 Asplenium ruta-muraria
Ferns Asplenium viride
Ferns Cystopteris fragilis
Ferns Polypodium vulgare
Ferns Woodsia alpina
Ferns Woodsia glabella
Flowering Plants Arabidopsis petraea
Flowering Plants Arabis alpina
Flowering Plants Arenaria norvegica subsp. norvegica
Flowering Plants Campanula rotundifolia
Flowering Plants Draba fladnizensis
Flowering Plants Poa glauca
Flowering Plants Potentilla crantzii
Flowering Plants Rhodiola rosea
Flowering Plants Saxifraga adscendens subsp. adscendens
Flowering Plants Saxifraga nivalis
Flowering Plants Viscaria alpina
Mosses & Liverworts Anoectangium aestivum
Mosses & Liverworts Barbula convoluta
Mosses & Liverworts Brachythecium glareosum
Mosses & Liverworts Campyliadelphus chrysophyllus
Mosses & Liverworts Cnestrum alpestre
Mosses & Liverworts Ctenidium molluscum
Mosses & Liverworts Didymodon icmadophilus
Mosses & Liverworts Distichium capillaceum
Mosses & Liverworts Ditrichum flexicaule
Mosses & Liverworts Encalypta affinis
Mosses & Liverworts Encalypta streptocarpa
Mosses & Liverworts Grimmia anodon
Mosses & Liverworts Gymnostomum aeruginosum
Mosses & Liverworts Gyroweisia tenuis
Mosses & Liverworts Homalothecium sericeum
Mosses & Liverworts Hypnum recurvatum
Mosses & Liverworts Isopterygiopsis pulchella
Mosses & Liverworts Mnium stellare
Mosses & Liverworts Myurella julacea
Mosses & Liverworts Neckera crispa
Mosses & Liverworts Orthothecium strictum
Mosses & Liverworts Orthotrichum anomalum
Mosses & Liverworts Plagiopus oederiana
Mosses & Liverworts Pohlia cruda
Mosses & Liverworts Rhytidium rugosum
Mosses & Liverworts Saelania glaucescens
Mosses & Liverworts Timmia austriaca
Mosses & Liverworts Timmia comata
Mosses & Liverworts Tortella tortuosa
Species scientific name English common name Species group
Asplenium ruta-muraria Ferns
Asplenium viride Ferns
Cystopteris fragilis Ferns
Polypodium vulgare Ferns
Woodsia alpina Ferns
Woodsia glabella Ferns
Arabidopsis petraea Flowering Plants
Arabis alpina Flowering Plants
Arenaria norvegica subsp. norvegica Flowering Plants
Campanula rotundifolia Flowering Plants
Draba fladnizensis Flowering Plants
Poa glauca Flowering Plants
Potentilla crantzii Flowering Plants
Rhodiola rosea Flowering Plants
Saxifraga adscendens subsp. adscendens Flowering Plants
Saxifraga nivalis Flowering Plants
Viscaria alpina Flowering Plants
Anoectangium aestivum Mosses & Liverworts
Barbula convoluta Mosses & Liverworts
Brachythecium glareosum Mosses & Liverworts
Campyliadelphus chrysophyllus Mosses & Liverworts
Cnestrum alpestre Mosses & Liverworts
Ctenidium molluscum Mosses & Liverworts
Didymodon icmadophilus Mosses & Liverworts
Distichium capillaceum Mosses & Liverworts
Ditrichum flexicaule Mosses & Liverworts
Encalypta affinis Mosses & Liverworts
Encalypta streptocarpa Mosses & Liverworts
Grimmia anodon Mosses & Liverworts
Gymnostomum aeruginosum Mosses & Liverworts
Gyroweisia tenuis Mosses & Liverworts
Homalothecium sericeum Mosses & Liverworts
Hypnum recurvatum Mosses & Liverworts
Isopterygiopsis pulchella Mosses & Liverworts
Mnium stellare Mosses & Liverworts
Myurella julacea Mosses & Liverworts
Neckera crispa Mosses & Liverworts
Orthothecium strictum Mosses & Liverworts
Orthotrichum anomalum Mosses & Liverworts
Plagiopus oederiana Mosses & Liverworts
Pohlia cruda Mosses & Liverworts
Rhytidium rugosum Mosses & Liverworts
Saelania glaucescens Mosses & Liverworts
Timmia austriaca Mosses & Liverworts
Timmia comata Mosses & Liverworts
Tortella tortuosa 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 H3.2 Basic and ultra-basic inland cliffs narrower
European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100