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Vegetation Subcommittee FY 08 Work Plan



On October 22, 1997, Secretary of the Interior Babbitt, as the Chair of the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC), endorsed the Committee's approval of the National Vegetation Classification and Information Standards. This is now the standard vegetation classification system for sharing vegetation information among by Federal government agencies and their cooperators.

The National Vegetation Classification Standard (NVCS), [referred to as the Standard] helped to increase sharing of vegetation data among Federal agencies and other partners as directed by OMB Circular A-16.  The 1997 Standard established a physiognomic/floristic vegetation hierarchy, established the content standard for the physiognomic levels, and initiated development of a process standard for the floristic levels.  Development of the floristic classification process standard has continued since 1998 through an MOU with the Ecological Society of America, NatureServe (then the Nature Conservancy), and U.S. Geological Survey's National Biological Information Infrastructure and (NBII).  Revision of the physiognomic content standard began in 2003.  The Subcommittee and its partners are currently working to integrate the revision of the physiognomic content standard and development of the floristic process standard.  The content of the FGDC vegetation classification system will require ongoing refinement.  This is because the revised standard requires floristic types to be based on plot data and adds new intermediate floristic levels to improve the utility of the classification

Objectives and Goals for FY 2008

The primary goal for 2008 is to complete the revision of the 1997 National Vegetation Classification Standard (hereafter referred to as the “Standard”).   The development and use of a consistent national vegetation classification will produce uniform statistics about vegetation resources across the nation, based on vegetation data gathered at local, regional, or national levels.  This will facilitate cooperation on vegetation management issues that transcend jurisdictional boundaries.

The following objectives:

  • Complete the 12th step of the Standard for formal FGDC approval process.
  • Complete the draft implementation plan for the Standard.
  • Hire an interim Implementation Plan  Manager
  • Evaluate tools and data

Benefits or Justifications or Legal Mandate

This Standard establishes national procedures for classifying existing vegetation for the United States and its Trust Territories that shall be used by Federal agencies to share vegetation information and report national statistics in accordance with OMB Circular, OMB Circular A-119 and Executive Order 12906.  The Standard also establishes minimum metadata requirements to ensure consistent reporting on the status of our Nation's vegetation resources. Both the Standard and the metadata requirements may be used nationally to link local level vegetation inventory and map efforts.

The ability to crosswalk other vegetation classifications and map legends to the Standard will facilitate the compilation of regional and national summaries.  The overall purpose encompasses four broad objectives:

  1. To facilitate and support the development of a standardized vegetation classification for the United States and its use for information sharing.
  2. To define and adopt standards for vegetation data collection and analysis used in support of the classification.
  3. To maintain scientific credibility of the national classification through peer review.  
  4. To facilitate inter-agency collaboration.


This Standard applies only to existing vegetation, includes only existing vegetation types. Existing vegetation is the plant cover, or floristic composition and vegetation structure, documented to occur at a specific location and time.   This Standard does not directly apply to classification or mapping of potential natural vegetation.

Milestone, Schedule, and Budget

  • Draft Standard was approved by the FGDC Coordination group in 2007 to move forward for step12 of the FGDC process.
  • Brief participating partners and agencies executives of ongoing actions.
  • Develop strategies with partner agencies and organizations for implementation support.
  • Develop a 5 year budget for support to complete and implement the completion of the Standard and implementation plan.

Identification of funding sources or requests

Funding for the support of the Standard is to be provided by the sponsoring and partner agencies and organizations. 

Point of Contact, Contact Information

Chair, FGDC Vegetation Subcommittee
Dr. Ralph H. Crawford
USDA Forest Service Research and Development

Mailing Address:
USDA Forest Service Research and Development
1601 North Kent Street RPC-4
Arlington, Virginia   22209

Phone:  703 605-5253
Fax:      703 605-5133

Last Updated: May 13, 2008 02:15 PM
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