Work on a comprehensive National Vegetation Classification began in the early 1990s, when the Ecology Department of The Nature Conservancy (now with NatureServe), the Ecological Society of America (ESA), and federal agencies recognized a need to collaborate on the creation of a standardized, scientifically credible North American vegetation classification.
In 1997 the first vegetation standard was adopted, and the first version was released in 1998. In 2008, the current, dynamic standard was approved and a second version was released in 2016.
Updates to the standard are managed by the Panel on Vegetation Classification (ESA) through a peer-review process.
Development of the National Vegetation Classification
- 2021 The first best practices paper is published in the Proceedings.
Lee, M. T., R. K. Peet, T. R. Wentworth, M. P. Schafale, A. S. Weakley, J. P. Vanderhorst, K. D. Patterson. 2021. Availability of plot data from the Carolinas and Virginias for documenting the US National Vegetation Classification. Volume 1, Issue 4, Pages 1-46.
- 2021 A major revision to the USNVC is completed for Alaska
Faber-Landgendoen, D., P. J. MacIntyre, T. Jordenson, M. K. Raynolds, L. Saperstein, B. K. Schultz, A. F. Wells. The Alaska U.S. National Vegetation Classification: Synopsis of a workshop review of macrogroups, groups, and alliances. Proceedings of the USNVC. Volume 1, Issue 4, Pages 1-127.
- 2020 25th Anniversary of the ESA Veg Panel
- 2018 A special session is held at the 61st International Association for Vegetation Science in Bozeman, Montana.
- 2017 The role of Editor In Chief is established and Regional and Associate Peer Review Board is created.
- 2016 The first Proceedings of the USNVC article is published.
Palmquist, K.A., R.K Peet, and S. C. Carr. 2016. Xeric Longleaf Pine Vegetation of the Atlantic and East Gulf Coast Coastal Plain: An Evaluation and Revision of Associations within the U.S. National Vegetation Classification.
- 2016 Launch of the USNVC for the Natural Vegetation of the Conterminous U.S. The USNVC partners release the full initial content of the USNVC, comprehensive for the top 6 levels for the entire U.S., and for alliances and associations for the lower 48 states. The ESA Panel launches a Peer Review Board in support of ongoing improving of the USNVC content.
- 2014 A new MOU is signed by NatureServe, ESA, the USFS, and USGS that formalizes their roles in support of the maintenance and development of the USNVC.
- 2012-2015 ESA Vegetation Panel works with NatureServe to screen and review middle and lower levels of the USNVC.
- 2010 Setting the stage for the new NVC Classification
FGDC Vegetation Subcommittee – Hierarchy Revisions Working Group revises the upper levels (Formation Class, Formation Subclass, and Formation) of the USNVC.
- 2009 ESA Vegetation Panel is enlisted to help oversee the review and adoption of the initial content of the NVC Standard, and to establish the processes for managing the dynamic content through continued peer review and publishing of the Proceedings of the NVC.
- 2009 NatureServe launches revisions to the USNVC, based on the new standard, working with the FGDC Hierarchy Revisions Working Group, federal agencies the ESA Vegetation panel. The goal is to create “initial content” at all levels that serves as the starting point for the ongoing development of the USNVC.
- 2008 Version 2 of the FGDC National Vegetation Classification Standard is formally adopted. The new Standard is approved as the first dynamic content standard, allowing for efficient evolution of the content as the scientific body of knowledge continues to grow. The dynamic standard reflects the recommendations of the ESA Vegetation Panel as subsequently described in Jennings et al. 2009.
- 2004 The ESA Vegetation Panel data subcommittee develops and releases VegBank (http://vegbank.org) as a formal archive for vegetation plot data to support the USNVC.
- 2003 In response to issues related to mapping the 1997 hierarchy, NatureServe publishes the Ecological Systems Classification Ecological Systems are defined as “…a group of plant community types (associations) that tend to co-occur within landscapes with similar ecological processes, substrates, and/or environmental gradients.”
- 1999 A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is formalized between the ESA Vegetation Panel, The Nature Conservancy/NatureServe, the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC), for the purpose of forming a partnership to develop, implement, and maintain the National Vegetation Classification (NVC) system.
- 1998 The Nature Conservancy published Terrestrial Vegetation of the United States, containing a list of over 4,000 associations and 1500 alliances.
- 1997 The first National Vegetation Classification Standard is adopted by the FGDC Subcommittee. That Standard creates a 5-level hierarchy down to the formation level. The existing types described at the alliance and association level were not formally adopted as a part of that standard.
- 1995 The Ecological Society of America formally established the Vegetation Classification Panel as a special committee. This committee is formed by a small group of plant community ecologists with the intent of advancing national vegetation classification in the U.S.
- 1993 The Ecological Society of America, The Nature Conservancy, The U.S. Geological Survey, and the FGDC Vegetation Subcommittee initiate discussions as to how to jointly develop a US National Vegetation Classification.
- 1991 The FGDC Vegetation Subcommittee was established.
- Pre-1990s No national vegetation classification exists. There are a variety of developed classification systems for specific applications.