National Vegetation Classification Standard

Document number


Maintenance authority

Forest Service, USDA


The overall objective of the Vegetation and Information Standards is to support the use of a consistent national vegetation classification system (NVCS) to produce uniform statistics in vegetation resources from vegetation cover data at the national level. It is important that, as agencies map or inventory vegetated Earth cover, they collect enough data accurately and precisely to translate it for national reporting, aggregation, and comparisons. Adoption of the Vegetation Classification and Information Standards in subsequent development and application of vegetation mapping schemes will facilitate the compilation of regional and national summaries. In turn, the consistent collection of such information will eventually support the detailed, quantitative, geo-referenced basis for vegetation cover modeling, mapping, and analysis at the field level.


This standard:

  1. Fosters accuracy, consistency, and clarity in the structure, labeling, definition and application of a systematic vegetation taxonomy for the United States. Accuracy, consistency, and clarity are critical for making effective and efficient decisions about complex assemblages of biotic organisms.
  2. Establishes a national set of standards for classifying existing vegetation cover and its associated information for the United States and its Trust Territories that will be used by Federal agencies to develop and report national statistics. This standard includes guiding principles, definitions of important terminology, and the National Vegetation Classification System (NVCS).
  3. Develops federal minimum metadata requirements to ensure consistent reporting on the status of our Nation's vegetation resources. Both the classification system and the metadata requirements may be used nationally to link local level vegetation inventory and map efforts

Sponsored by

FGDC Vegetation Subcommittee

Project history

Document Version Date Custodian
FGDC-endorsed standard
1997-06 Forest Service
Commitee draft 2.0
FGDC Standards Working Group
Public review draft 2.0
2007-03-07 FGDC Secretariat
Final draft


2007-10-05 FGDC Standards Working Group
Comment log from public review
2007-10-05 FGDC Standards Working Group
SWG review of final draft 
2007-11-05 FGDC Standards Working Group
FGDC-endorsed standard     2.0 2008-02 Forest Service