Your guide to the nation’s vegetation!
All Photos by Chris Lea/National Park Service
The U.S National Vegetation Classification (USNVC) is a comprehensive classification system for all vegetation types in the United States. Much like a flora for plant species, the USNVC offers a hierarchy of classification levels from coarse to fine, providing a common language for the effective management and conservation of plant communities in the U.S. Furthermore, it is governed by standards for vegetation data collection and analysis, ensuring consistent reporting on the nation’s vegetation resources.
The USNVC provides a common language for the effective management and conservation of plant communities. A collaboration between the Ecological Society of America (ESA), NatureServe, and various federal agencies, the USNVC is the only standardized vegetation classification system for the United States. The framework of the standard allows for communication and cooperation on vegetation management issues that cross jurisdictional boundaries.
As a dynamic standard, the USNVC is designed to be easily adapted as new ecological knowledge becomes available. This as well as its hierarchical nature makes the classification scalable for diverse applications from vegetation monitoring to broad-scale analyses of trends across North America. Additional applications include:
- Modeling and mapping wildlife habitat
- Enhancing natural resource conservation efforts
- Fire management planning and modeling
- Studying patterns of vegetation change over time
- Managing invasive species
- Land inventory and mapping programs
- Setting national vegetation policies (e.g., biofuels, carbon markets, ecosystem services)