Red List habitat classification > RL - Marine habitats > RLNEA - Atlantic > NEAA2.12 Estuarine Atlantic littoral coarse sediment

Estuarine Atlantic littoral coarse sediment

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code NEAA2.12
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)


This habitat occurs on shores of coarse sediments (shingle, gravels and coarse sand) and in the upper reaches of estuaries and other inlets (e.g. sea lochs) which are subject to variable and reduced salinity conditions. The outflow of riverine freshwater at the heads of the inlets results in the washing out of fine particulate matter, leaving coarse sediments.

Indicators of Quality:

Both biotic and abiotic indicators have been used to describe marine habitat quality. These include: the presence of characteristic species as well as those which are sensitive to the pressures the habitat may face; water quality parameters; levels of exposure to particular pressure, and more integrated indices which describe habitat structure and function, such as trophic index, or successional stages of development in habitats that have a natural cycle of change overtime.

Indices developed to assess the ecological status of coastal waters, including estuaries, according to the Water Framework Directive, include physical indicators, water quality indicators and measures of benthic diversity, species richness and abundance. The latter group, which is particularly relevant to benthic habitats, includes a Benthic Quality Index, an Infaunal Trophic Index, a Marine Biotic index based on ecological groups, and the Benthic Opportunistic Polychaetes/Amphipods index.

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

There is a lack of information on the extent of this habitat and any trends in quantity or quality over the last 50 years. For the purposes of Red List assessment it is therefore considered to be Data Deficient for both the EU 28 and EU 28+.
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Data Deficient -
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Data Deficient -

Confidence in the assessment

Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • Urbanisation, residential and commercial development
    • Discharges
    • Disposal of household / Recreational facility waste
    • Disposal of industrial waste
    • Disposal of inert materials
    • Other discharges
    • Water discharges (with/without contaminants)
  • Human intrusions and disturbances
    • Outdoor sports and leisure activities, recreational activities
    • Walking, horseriding and non-motorised vehicles
  • Pollution
    • Pollution to surface waters by industrial plants
    • Pollution to surface waters by storm overflows
    • Other point source pollution to surface water
    • Diffuse pollution to surface waters via storm overflows or urban run-off
    • Diffuse pollution to surface waters due to agricultural and forestry activities
  • Natural System modifications
    • Human induced changes in hydraulic conditions
    • Landfill, land reclamation and drying out, general
    • Reclamation of land from sea, estuary or marsh
    • Removal of sediments (mud...)
    • Estuarine and coastal dredging
    • Change of sea-floor substrate
    • Dykes, embankments, artificial beaches, general
    • Sea defense or coast protection works, tidal barrages

Habitat restoration potential


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

Conservation and management schemes to benefit estuarine habitats have been applied at a number of scales ranging from whole estuary systems to small areas within an estuary. They include the removal of dykes, together with the introduction of water quality improvement programmes to reduce the risk of toxic contamination.
Other measures include spatial management, with zoning of activities as part of Integrated Coastal Zone Management Schemes, Marine Protected Areas that cover the entire estuary complex, and management of diffuse inputs from the water shed.

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to wetland, freshwater and coastal habitats
    • Restoring/Improving water quality
    • Restoring/Improving the hydrological regime
  • Measures related to marine habitats
    • Other marine-related measures
  • Measures related to spatial planning
    • Other marine-related measures
  • Measures related to urban areas, industry, energy and transport
    • Other measures
    • Urban and industrial waste 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

Seas Present or presence uncertain Current area of habitat (Km2) Recent trend in quantity (last 50 years) Recent trend in quality (last 50 years)
Celtic Seas Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Greater North Sea
Bay of Biscay and the Iberian Coast

Extent of Occurrence, Area of Occupancy and habitat area

Extent of Occurrence (EOO) (Km2) Area of Occupancy (AOO) Current estimated Total Area Comment
EU28 Unknown Unknown Unknown Insufficient records for reliable estimate.
EU28+ Unknown Unknown Insufficient records for reliable estimate.
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)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Phone: +45 3336 7100