The European Forest Plant Species List (EuForPlant): Concept and applications

Research output: Journal contributionsJournal articlesResearchpeer-review


  • Thilo Heinken
  • Martin Diekmann
  • Jaan Liira
  • Anna Orczewska
  • Marcus Schmidt
  • Jörg Brunet
  • Milan Chytrý
  • Olivier Chabrerie
  • Guillaume Decocq
  • Pieter De Frenne
  • Pavel Drevojan
  • Zbigniew Dzwonko
  • Jörg Ewald
  • Jon Feilberg
  • Bente Jessen Graae
  • John Arvid Grytnes
  • Martin Hermy
  • Wolf-Ulrich Kriebitzsch
  • Maris Laivins
  • Jonathan Lenoir
  • Sigrid Lindmo
  • Damien Marage
  • Vitas Marozas
  • Jaanus Paal
  • Petr Pyšek
  • Elle Roosaluste
  • Jiri Sadlo
  • Joop H.J. Schaminée
  • Torbjörn Tyler
  • Kris Verheyen
  • Monika Wulf
  • Thomas Vanneste

Question: When evaluating forests in terms of their biodiversity, distinctiveness and naturalness, the affinity of the constituent species to forests is a crucial parameter. Here we ask to what extent are vascular plant species associated with forests, and does species’ affinity to forests vary between European regions?. Location: Temperate and boreal forest biome of Northwestern and Central Europe. Methods: We compiled EuForPlant, a new extensive list of forest vascular plant species in 24 regions spread across 13 European countries using vegetation databases and expert knowledge. Species were region-specifically classified into four categories reflecting the degree of their affinity to forest habitats: 1.1, species of forest interiors; 1.2, species of forest edges and forest openings; 2.1, species that can be found in forest as well as open vegetation; and 2.2, species that can be found partly in forest, but mainly in open vegetation. An additional “O” category was distinguished, covering species typical for non-forest vegetation. Results: EuForPlant comprises 1,726 species, including 1,437 herb-layer species, 159 shrubs, 107 trees, 19 lianas and 4 epiphytic parasites. Across regions, generalist forest species (with 450 and 777 species classified as 2.1 and 2.2, respectively) significantly outnumbered specialist forest species (with 250 and 137 species classified as 1.1 and 1.2, respectively). Even though the degree of shifting between the categories of forest affinity among regions was relatively low (on average, 17.5%), about one-third of the forest species (especially 1.2 and 2.2) swapped categories in at least one of the study regions. Conclusions: The proposed list can be used widely in vegetation science and global change ecology related to forest biodiversity and community dynamics. Shifting of forest affinity among regions emphasizes the importance of a continental-scale forest plant species list with regional specificity.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13132
JournalJournal of Vegetation Science
Issue number3
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 16.05.2022

Bibliographical note

We are grateful to the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO) for funding the scientific research network FLEUR. PDF and TV were supported by the European Research Council (ERC) through the ERC Starting Grant FORMICA (Grant/Award Number: 757833) and KV though the ERC Consolidator Grant PASTFORWARD (Grant/Award Number: 614839). JL was funded by the European Regional Development Fund (the Centre of Excellence EcolChange) and the Estonian Research Council (Grant/Award Number: PRG1223). MC and PD received funding from the Czech Science Foundation (Grant/Award Number: 19‐28491X), while PP was supported by EXPRO grant (Czech Science Foundation, Grant/Award Number: 19‐28807X) and long‐term research development project RVO (Czech Academy of Sciences, Grant/Award Number: 67985939)

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Journal of Vegetation Science published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of International Association for Vegetation Science.

    Research areas

  • Ecosystems Research - biogeographical regions, boreal zone, expert knowledge, forest affinity, forest plant species, habitat shift, nemoral zone, species diversity, vascular flora, woodland