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The ESA Panel on Vegetation Classification was constituted in 1994 by the Ecological Society of America to support and facilitate the creation of standardized, scientifically credible North American vegetation classification. In 2009, the Panel was officially granted standing committee status by the governing board.



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:

  • Advances 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,
  • Fosters and coordinates research in vegetation classification and the use of the NVC for understanding vegetation patterns and dynamics,
  • Supports applications of the NVC for management and conservation, research, and education objectives, and
  • Promotes national and international understanding of North American vegetation as a component of ecosystems that sustain the biosphere.

U.S. National Vegetation Classification System Partnership

In February 2014, the Panel renewed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that forms the partnership that supports the implementation and maintenance of the U.S. NVC.  Signatories to the MOU include representatives of the Federal Geographic Data Committee – Vegetation Subcommittee, U.S. Forest Service – Research and Development, U.S. Geological Survey – Core Science Systems, NatureServe, and the Ecological Society of America.


The ESA Vegetation Classification Panel’s activities have been funded by the U.S. Forest Service, Core Science Analysis, Synthesis, and Libraries of the U.S. Geological Survey), the Federal Geographic Data Committee, the Bureau of Land Management, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, and the Army Environmental Policy Institute. The ESA Science Office provides support to the ESA Panel on Vegetation Classification.