The Vegetation Subcommittee was established to coordinate terrestrial vegetative data-related activities that include promoting accurate and current standards, financed in whole or in part by Federal funds; exchanging information on technological improvements; encouraging the Federal and non-Federal communities to identify and adopt the standards and specifications; and collecting and processing the requirements of Federal and non-Federal organizations. Learn more

Federal participants in the Subcommittee provide leadership to facilitate: (1) the revision and implementation of the FGDC Vegetation standard and the revision of the classification hierarchy according to the FGDC Vegetation standard, which are used in vegetation classification, mapping, and inventory; (2) the development of partnership programs with Federal agencies, States, Tribes, localities, academia, and the private sector; (3) addressing user and natural resource needs, (4) identifying needs for standards and metadata to support the NGDA Land Cover and Land Use and Biota Themes; and (5) the adoption of goals to support the NSDI strategy, A–16 portfolio management,, and The subcommittee meets monthly to facilitate partner communication and planning.

Recent accomplishments

FY 2015 Accomplishments

The subcommittee’s accomplishments for 2015 include the following:

  •  Formally released the National Vegetation Classification (NVC) for the conterminous United States in fall 2015 ( Also finalized the NVC charter and implementation plan. The NVC is a central organizing framework for how all vegetation in the United States is inventoried and studied, from broad-scale formations (biomes) to fine-scale plant communities. The purpose of the NVC is to produce uniform statistics about vegetation resources across the Nation, based on vegetation data gathered at local, regional, or national levels.
  • Oversaw the ongoing vegetation hierarchy revisions, specifically the division level of the NVC standard, including hosting a workshop for the review of the macrogroups in Linthicum, Maryland, in fall 2014. Submitted for publication the report of the Hierarchy Revision Working Group, which introduces the upper formation levels of the vegetation classification, and provided a description for each type, following the FGDC Vegetation Classification standard format.
  • Finalized the processes for the National Vegetation peer review. The results of the peer reviews and the policy decisions will be used to identify the new vegetation types and modifications to vegetation types currently described in the NVC.
  • Initiated three projects focused on archiving and increasing access to high-quality vegetation plot data for the Atlantic Coastal Plain, the Mid-Atlantic States, and California.
  • Initiated two regional vegetation classification projects that will improve our understanding of the NVC in the Artic and Boreal Region of Alaska and the Chihuahuan Desert.
  • Supported efforts to identify the range of options available for housing the components of the NVC and to identify options that would meet the FGDC needs for vegetation data.
  • Continued to develop the cyber infrastructure to support the NVC, specifically the Hierarchy Browser search capability. Also, through support to the Ecological Society of America Vegetation Panel, continued to maintain a public archive for vegetation records in
  • Hosted a fieldtrip at the Society for Range Management Annual Meeting in San Jose, California, to sites illustrating important range management issues, and hosted a booth at the Ecological Society of America (ESA) Conference in August 2015.
  • Endorsed the publication of “A Shared Vision for the California Survey of Vegetation” as a project consistent with the NVC standard and hierarchy. This project was funded with a NSDI Cooperative Agreements Program grant to the California Native Plant Society and the California Department of Fish and Game to establish linkages between the alliances recognized in the Manual of California Vegetation and alliances of the NVC,
  • The Forest Service Existing Vegetation Classification, Mapping, and Inventory Technical guide (Version 2.0) was published after substantial input from the FGDC Vegetation Committee and ESA Vegetation Panel members. The endorsement from the FGDC Vegetation Subcommittee showed that the project and publication was consistent with the FGDC Vegetation Standard. The guide is available at
  • Secured new funding through an interagency agreement (USFS/USGS) for the Ecological Society of America’s Vegetation Classification Panel to continue their work in vegetation classification and education.
The Vegetation Subcommittee maintains it's own website which has more information about the subcommittee and its activities. Visit Website