Natura 2000 code: 3180*

Turloughs are an ecologically extremely diverse habitat type, for the most part defined by the changing water level. Water submersion phase usually lasts from one to six months, exceptionally even longer. Submersion usually occurs between autumn and spring, but due to strong precipitation can happen in summer as well. During the submerging period the water is only a few meters deep, which allows the sunlight to penetrate to the bottom, thus inducing the underwater development of flora in spring even for non-aquatic plants.

Two of Slovenia’s turloughs have surface watercourses; the most famous is Lake Cerknica, which is connected to Planinsko polje via a subterranean river. Another group is the intermittent Pivka Lakes, which fill up through the rise of underground waters.

Turloughs are a functional habitat type, combining a wide set of autonomous, mostly wet habitat types. Among them are:

mesotrophic wet meadows – with characteristic species Lychnis flos-cuculi, Bromus racemosus, Mentha aquatica;

Molinia meadows on calcareous, peaty or clayey-silt-laden soils – Molinia caerulea, Deschampsia cespitosa, Gentiana pneumonanthe;

Phragmites stands – Phragmites australis, Schoenoplectus lacustris, Iris pseudacorus;

Schoenoplectus associations Schoenoplectus lacustris;

tall sedge meadow communities – Carex elata, Carex vesicaria, Lysimachia vulgaris;

alkaline fens – Schoenus nigricans, Schoenus ferrugineus, Carex davalliana, Carex panicea, Eriophorum sp., Epipactis palustris.

On some project subareas (Planinsko polje and Pivka Lakes), these vulnerable wet habitat types are threatened mostly by agricultural intensification: expansion of pastures, intense fertilising and frequent mowing.

Semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland facies on calcareous substrates (Festuco-Brometalia)
Koda Natura 2000: 6210(*)

This habitat type is represented by dry and semi-dry secondary (semi-natural) Middle-European grasslands with Bromus erectus as the dominant species. In the non-Mediterranean part of Slovenia it is mostly found on calcareous substrate, sometimes also on flysch and acidic sandstone ground. It is generally developed on southern-oriented thermophile expositions from the lowlands to the mountains. These grasslands are usually used as meadows or pastures in hilly areas of traditional cultural landscape. They are managed extensively, without or with only moderate fertilising. Its vegetation is sensitive to dampness or water stagnation, preferring shallow and well-drained soil.
This habitat type is characterised by diverse flora, with an abundance of orchid species earmarking it as a  conservation priority. Typical species are Bromus erectus, Festuca rubra, Festuca rupicola, Briza media, Hypochaeris radicata, Plantago media, several Dianthus species (D. armeria, D. deltoides) and many orchid species such as Orchis tridentata, Orchis militaris, Anacamptis pyramidalis, Ophrys apifera, Ophrys holosericea, Spiranthes spiralis.
Historically, this habitat type used to be one of most widespread grassland types in Slovenia. Its extent started to reduce as a result of rapid agricultural intensification in the 20th century. Nowadays, it is threatened by agricultural intensification (excessive fertilising, frequent mowing, conversion of pastures into arable fields) as well as the abandonment of traditional agricultural use and consequential overgrowing.

Species-rich Nardus grasslands, on silicious substrates in mountain areas (and submountain areas in Continental Europe)
Natura 2000 code: 6230*

Grasslands with the dominant species Nardus stricta (also known as matgrass) occur on sun-exposed, nutrient poor acidic soils. Although they can thrive on various wet substrates, they are mostly found on moderately dry soil from the lowlands to the mountains. This habitat type prefers silicious soil, but can occur on schists or on deep soil with no connection to the base rock ground. Suitable areas for Nardus grasslands in Slovenia are scarce – the most extensive can be found in Karavanke mountain range, Pohorje and Smrekovec. In some areas this habitat type occurs above the anthropogenically lowered tree line and in the mountain zone.
Beside Nardus stricta (matgrass) the characteristic grass species of this habitat type include Festuca ovina, Festuca rubra, Anthoxanthum odoratum, as well as many colourful mountain and subalpine plant species: Arnica montana, Hieracium aurantiacum, Campanula barbata, Galium saxatile, Gentiana panonica, Leontodon helveticus and some wild orchid species.
In mountain zone Nardus grasslands are endangered by spontaneous overgrowing, resulting from the cessation of mowing or grazing. The intensification of mountain tourism has a strong negative affect on this habitat type as well; the most critical are ground levelling for ski slopes, artificial snow making, physical damage of vegetation, use of unsuitable seed mixtures and urbanization.


Eastern sub-mediteranean dry grasslands (Scorzoneratalia villosae)
Natura 2000 code: 62A0

In Slovenia these dry and semi-dry grasslands and pastures can be found only in the sub-Mediterranean phytogeographical region. They were mainly formed approximately 2500 years ago with larger deforestations and are therefore of anthropogenic origin. Their development climax was reached in the 17th and 18th century, whereas their decline started in the middle of the 20th century. They develop in areas of naturally occurring beech and oak forests, mostly on limestones, dolomites, rarely on flysch.

These grasslands are maintained by extensive mowing or grazing. In the past, this was the dominant habitat type in the Slovene Littoral region. Nowadays, however, it is generally encroaching by scrub because of the abandonment of traditional agricultural use. Areas at higher altitude are an exception: the overgrowing process is much slower there because of rocky ground and exposure to strong winds.

Ecological conditions can be very diverse for this habitat type, however, it is usually found on dry and sun-exposed locations. Plant communities are adapted to soil with variable amount of nutrients; they appear both on poor stone pastures as well as on deep, nutrient-rich soils and karst poljes. At the same time, vegetation is highly sensitive to any form of additional fertilising. Soil acidity can also vary from alkaline to slightly acidic.

This habitat type has the highest plant biodiversity in Slovenia, which is both a consequence of the width of its conceptualization as well as the diversity of ecological conditions and biogeographical factors. The most common species are Stipa eriocaulis, Euphorbia nicaeensis, adjoined by characteristic species such as Carex humilis, Danthonia alpina, Euphorbia triflora, Genista holopetala, Jurinea mollis, Knautia illyrica, Leontodon crispus, Plantago holosteum and Hladnikia pastinacifolia, which is the only Slovenian monotypic endemic species and can be found at the southern edge of Trnovski gozd plateau.
This habitat type is threatened by the abandonment of traditional agricultural use, as well as off-road driving, fertilising, construction of infrastructure (power lines, roads, wind power plants), conversion into arable fields and intensification of meadows and pastures.

Molinia meadows on calcareous, peaty or clayey-silt-laden soils (Molinion caerulae)
Natura 2000 code: 6410

This habitat type is represented by various types of wet meadows on slightly acidic and nutrient poor soils. The usually impermeable ground with high water capacity enables water to stagnate at least occasionally.

In Slovenia, meadows with the dominant Molinia grass (also known as moor grass) occur from the lowlands to the mountains and can often be found next to watercourses. This habitat type can also represent a transition to fens or to dry, nutrient-poor grasslands.

Specialised habitat type allows specialist fauna and flora to flourish. This type of meadows attracts rare butterflies, dependent on e.g. Sanguisorba officinalis or Gentiana pneumonanthe. In Slovenia, Molinia meadows are scattered from the lowlands to mountain zone.

The most prominent species of this habitat type is moor grass with one or two of its subspecies, Molinia caerula ssp. caerula and Molinia caerula ssp. arundinacea, alongside with other characteristic species such as Betonica officinalis, Deschampsia caespitosa, Gentiana pneumonanthe, Gladiolus palustris, Iris sibirica, Serratula tinctoria and Succisa pratensis.
This habitat type is in steep decline in Slovenia because of landuse intensification. It is endangered by high amounts of nutrients in the soil, caused by fertilising or other kind of water pollution, as well as frequent mowing. It needs a stable hydrologic regime without modifications, and mowing once or twice a year as late as possible. Draining, fertilising (also with calcium carbonate), land abandonment, frequent mowing, conversion into arable fields and infrastructure are fatal for this habitat type and should be prevented.

Mediterranean tall humid grasslands of the Molinio-Holoschoenion
Natura 2000 code: 6420

This habitat type is represented by the Mediterranean tall humid grasslands of the Molinio-Holoschoenion association. They appear on the banks of stationary and running waters, in swamps and fens, prospering mostly on permanently wet areas. This habitat type is widespread in the entire Mediterranean basin, on the coasts of the Black Sea, particularly in the dunal systems. Its flora is usually comprised of many grass, sedge or rush species, with one of them usually dominating and forming tufted stands.

Tall grasslands have important role in flood control, alongside providing habitat for many endangered species. They serve as pastoral areas in summer, as they do not dry up like other meadow types in the Mediterranean – not even in the periods of longer droughts. The most representative form of this habitat type has not yet been observed in Slovenia, but according to some phytocoenologists, the Škocjanski zatok Nature Reserve has the potential to develop its full form.

Some of the most characteristic species are Molinia caerula ssp. arundinacea, Scirpoides holoschoenus, Plantago altissima, Carex otrubae, Allium angulosum, Iris sibirica, Orchis laxiflora, Ophrys apifera and Betonica officinalis.
This grassland type is endangered by the progressive construction of infrastructure (roads, coastal facilities, meliorations), pollution with nutrients and chemical substances, off-road driving and wetland drainage for other use.

Hydrophilous tall herb fringe communities of plains and of the montane to alpine levels
Natura 2000 code: 6430

Habitat type with Natura code 6430 combines the following forms: lowland tall herb fringe communities, nitrophilous forest edges, hydrophilous tall herb fringe communities as well as sub-alpine and alpine tall herb communities. Our project focuses on the first of the listed forms.

Lowland tall herb fringe communities consist of dense stands of hydrophilous tall or middle-sized herb species that occur on nutrient-rich deposits of lowland watercourses. They can be found on neutral to slightly acidic soils. This habitat type strongly depends on the soil moisture and can often be found alongside streams and stagnant waters. In areas with high ground water level, it can expand also further from the banks. In Slovenia, it is most common in the plains of central and eastern part of the country, usually in small dispersed patches, locally also as a fringe community of artificial watercourses.

Some of the most characteristic species of hydrophilous tall herb fringe communities are Filipendula ulmaria, Hypericum tetrapterum, Iris sibirica, Lysimachia vulgaris, Thalictrum flavum and Pseudolysimachion longifolium.
This grassland type is endangered by modifications of the hydrologic regime (especially interventions into riverbeds and their banks, meliorations …), expansion of certain invasive plant species (especially Solidago canadensis and S. gigantea), fertilising and alterations of water quality.

Lowland hay meadows (Alopecurus pratensis, Sanguisorba officinalis)
Natura 2000 code: 6510

This habitat type is represented by moderately fertilised meadows on permeable, semi-dry to dry ground. These meadows are highly productive due to nutrient-rich substrate, and adequate for mowing once or twice a year. The distribution of lowland hay meadows does not depend on geological base, making them a characteristic habitat type of cultural landscape in lowland areas throughout the Middle Europe. In Slovenia, it is found almost everywhere: from the lowlands to the submountain zone with the exception of the highlands. It is uncommon in the sub-Mediterranean.

Habitat type with Natura code 6510 corresponds to the national typology category of mesotrophic to eutrophic meadows with the following subordinate categories: Central European xeromesophilous lowland hay meadows on mostly dry, steep ground with dominant Arrhenatherum elatius and Central European hygromesophilous lowland hay meadows on moderately wet ground with dominant species Arrhenatherum elatius.

The flora of lowland hay meadows is moderately diverse. Characteristic species are Alopecurus pratensis, Arrhenatherum elatius, Knautia arvensis, Ranunculus repens, Campanula patula, Daucus carota, Leontodon hispidus, Lychnis flos-cuculi, Trifolium pratense, Tragopogon pratensis and Salvia pratensis.
This habitat type appears relatively common in Slovenia, however, it is in decline because of land use intensification (e. g. excessive fertilising, frequent mowing, drainage and use of unsuitable seed mixtures). It is often converted to species-poor, intensively managed meadows or arable fields. Wet forms of this habitat type are declining at the fastest rate, since they are often affected by melioration measures. Dry forms, on the other hand, are more susceptible to spontaneous overgrowing due to land abandonment.