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Core Science Analytics and Synthesis - USGS-NPS Vegetation Characterization Program

About the Program
About the USGS-NPS Vegetation Characterization Program

The USGS-NPS Vegetation Characterization Program is a cooperative effort by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the National Park Service (NPS) to classify, describe, and map vegetation communities in more than 280 national park units across the United States. The program, also known as Vegetation Inventory, is an important part of the NPS Inventory and Monitoring Program, a long-term effort to develop baseline data for the natural resources under National Park Service stewardship. The Core Science Analysis and Synthesis (CSAS) of the USGS supports the program by providing data hosting, data quality control and making available on the Web products for each of the completed vegetation inventory projects, as well as coordinating imagery archiving and standards development.

Field botanists and photointerpreters during the field work in Acadia National Park
Field botanists and photointerpreters during the
field work in Acadia National Park.

Program scientists have developed data collection procedures for classification, mapping, accuracy assessment, and use of existing data. Program products meet Federal Geographic Data Committee standards for vegetation classification and metadata, and national standards for spatial accuracy and data transfer. Standards include a minimum mapping unit of 0.5 hectares and classification accuracy of 80% for each map class. Nature Serve, an important partner in the USGS-NPS Vegetation Characterization Program, is the steward of the National Vegetation Classification System, which is used by the program to classify vegetation communities.

Program activities are based on peer-reviewed, objective science. Comprehensive vegetation information is provided at national and regional levels, while also serving local management needs of individual parks. Stringent quality control procedures ensure that products are accurate and consistent for initial inventory purposes and replicable for monitoring purposes, as well as for systematic comparisons at different levels and geographic areas across the Unites States.

Because all digital products from the program are being made available on the Web, other producers and users of vegetation data and information will be able to locate, retrieve, and utilize the product(s) that best meet their needs.

Related Web sites from partners and collaborators:

NPS Vegetation Inventory

The program uses Federal Standard for Vegetation Classification, established by Vegetation Subcommittee of the Federal Geographic Data Committee. For current status of the standard, products from the FGDC Vegetation Subcommittee, and more information on how all vegetation in the United States is inventoried and studied please visit The U.S. National Vegetation Classification - Your Guide to Inventorying Natural and Cultural Plant Communities.