Riparian Mapping Standard

Document number

Not applicable

Maintenance authority

Not applicable


  • To develop a unified Riparian Mapping Standard to define riparian, delineate its application, and to describe and define cartographic conventions for use in riparian mapping for the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI).
  • To minimize redundancy in effort in developing riparian mapping standards, ensure consistency in application of standards, facilitate data sharing and integrate riparian spatial data with data developed under the FGDC Wetlands Standard.


What is Riparian? (taken from "A System for Mapping Riparian Areas in the Western United States," U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, December 1997)

"There are many riparian definitions used by government agencies and the private sector. Riparian initiatives often concentrate on either functionality or land use application where an exact definition is not required. However, a riparian definition is essential for consistent and uniform identification and mapping. For these purposes, in the area of applicability:

Riparian areas are plant communities contiguous to and affected by surface and subsurface hydrologic features of perennial or intermittent lotic and lentic water bodies (rivers, streams, lakes, or drainage ways). Riparian areas have one or both of the following characteristics: 1) distinctively different vegetative species than adjacent areas, and 2) species similar to adjacent areas but exhibiting more vigorous or robust growth forms. Riparian areas are usually transitional between wetland and upland."

This proposed national standard would standardize and ensure consistency of the geospatial mapping of riparian areas in the United States where evaporation exceeds precipitation. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has adopted this standard ("A System for Mapping Riparian Areas in the Western United States" attached), developed with Federal and State agency participation, as an Agency Riparian Standard. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has recently completed testing of this mapping standard to assess its completeness and utility by Federal client agencies (sample maps are provided with this proposal). Member agencies in the Federal Geographic Data Committee’s (FGDC) Subcommittee for Wetlands have reviewed the Agency Riparian Standard and have agreed to propose it as an FGDC Standard.

This standards development process under the FGDC would expand the review of the Agency standard, make any needed changes identified during the process, and propose the riparian mapping standards for adoption under the Federal Geographic Data Committee Standards. Once adopted, the Riparian Standard would be made available both through the Service’s and the FGDC websites. Once a riparian standard is adopted, the digitized wetland-riparian maps will be made a part of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure.

Sponsored by

Wetlands Subcommittee

Related documents

National Vegetation Classifciation Standard, FGDC-STD-005
Classification of Wetlands and Deepwater Habitats of the United States

Project history

Document Version Date  Custodian
Proposal    2000-11-14  FGDC Standards Working Group