AL11 Directive alpine habitats
>> Background information
Current conservation status
The EU Habitats Directive includes seven alpine habitats. Five of them occur in both alpine and boreal region, two only in the alpine region. Conservation status of directive alpine habitats is favourable in general. Two types, alpine and boreal heaths and Nordic subalpine/subartic forests with mountain birch, have however been evaluated as unfavourable-inadequate and deteriorating in both alpine and boreal regions. The total area of these two habitat types include several different types of vegetation and cover a majority of the whole alpine habitat.
The function of alpine and boreal heaths as well as Nordic subalpine/subartic forests with Mountain Birch has been affected the most by reindeer grazing during the past decades. Since late 1970s, large reindeer herds have had a strong eroding effect on alpine nature, especially lichens (see also AL4). Many herbs and subshrubs also suffer from trampling. Heavy grazing may prevent the regeneration of mountain birch forests since reindeer eat young seedlings. Another explanation for the unfavourable status of the two habitat types is the future threat posed by global change.
The future impacts of global change on alpine habitat types are still difficult to evaluate. It is probable, however, that the dispersal of pine will decrease the area of mountain birch forests. The populations of autumnal moth and winter moth may increase and cause more damage. Increased forestation may in turn threaten alpine and boreal heaths.
- Updated (14.05.2013)