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The mission of the ESA Panel on Vegetation Classification is to develop the standards for a national vegetation classification system, including standards for plot-based survey methods and databases, and a dynamic approach to revising the classification based on peer-review.  The Panel maintains a Peer Review Board for the U.S. National Vegetation Classification (NVC) and works in collaboration with the Vegetation Subcommittee of the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC), NatureServe, and other agencies and organizations.

Development of the NVC:

The USNVC was developed through a partnership of the FGDC Vegetation Subcommittee (members include various government agencies [but most notably US Forest Service, National Park Service, and US Geological Society], NatureServe, and the Ecological Society of America Panel on Vegetation Classification). The Subcommittee first developed standards for a national classification (FGDC 2008), the National Vegetation Classification Standard (NVCS) and then built the classification (the USNVC) with the partners.


The ESA Panel provides impartial scientific expertise to agencies and individual partners in support of the development and use of a science-based national vegetation classification system.  To this end, the Panel will:

  • Advance standards for peer review of the U.S. National Vegetation Classification (NVC) to facilitate improvements in classification methods and in the scope and quality of data,
  • Foster and coordinate research in vegetation classification and the use of the NVC for understanding vegetation patterns and dynamics,
  • Support applications of the NVC for management and conservation, research, and education objectives, and
  • Promote national and international understanding of North American vegetation as a component of ecosystems that sustain the biosphere.

More information about the Panel can be found here:

List of Current Members

Panel Bylaws