Resource Inventories

Vegetation Inventory


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Vegetation Inventory Map Viewer

In coordination with the Washington Office Inventory and Monitoring (I&M) program, the Vegetation Inventory Program is pleased to announce the first release of the Vegetation Inventory Map Viewer. The Map Viewer application harvests vegetation inventory data enabling interactive display of vegetation polygon and point data by individual park unit or multiple park units. The application includes functionality to display base layers and overlay layers that can be modified by the user, query content of the inventory products, print maps, and allows for direct downloads of data sets in IRMA. The Map Viewer is a NPS service-wide application and available parks include all completed vegetation inventory projects.

12 Step Guidance

  • The Vegetation Inventory Program has developed a 12 Step Guidance document to assist NPS networks, park staff and cooperators with the planning and the design of vegetation inventory projects.  Since the program’s inception in 1992, we have learned what makes projects succeed and we wish to equip park inventory planners with the tools to run a successful vegetation inventory project.  Thus, this guidance document is required for the planning and execution of your vegetation inventory project.  This document is a work in progress; changes and updates are to be expected. Link to 12 Step Guidance

  • The Vegetation Inventory Program releases PLOTS 3.2 for Microsoft Access 2007, March 2011. See our PLOTS page for download and instructions.
Aspens and Pines in Forest (NPS Photo)
Quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) boulderfield forest near Bear Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park. (NPS Photo)


The Vegetation Mapping Inventory is an effort by the National Park Service (NPS) to classify, describe, and map detailed vegetation communities in more than 270 national park units across the United States.

The primary objective of the Vegetation Mapping Inventory is to produce high-quality, standardized maps and associated data sets of vegetation and other land-cover occurring within parks. This information fills and complements a wide variety of resource assessment, park management, and conservation needs.

Vegetation species and communities are unique from park to park. The inventory of these resources helps park managers conserve plant biodiversity, manage challenges such as exotic species, insect outbreaks, and diseases, and understand resources and processes such and wildlife habitat relationships and wildland fires.

For example, in Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks, the 2007 vegetation map and digital database provided the park with tools to better manage foxtail pines (Pinus balfouriana ssp. austrina), an endemic species to the southern Sierra Nevada. Foxtail pines live more than 1,000 years and their tree rings contain valuable information about past climate fluctuations. In Rocky Mountain National Park, vegetation map and inventory data aid in the study of elk damage to aspen and willow trees along elk wintering grounds.

NPS vegetation mapping follows well-established procedures that are compatible with other agencies and organizations. The inventory uses the National Vegetation Classification Standard (NVCS), a system that is integrated with the major scientific efforts in the taxonomic classification of vegetation, and is a Federal Geographic Data Committee standard. In addition, stringent quality control procedures ensure the reliability of the vegetation data and encourage the use of resulting maps, reports, and databases at multiple scales.


A complete vegetation mapping project for a park includes the following products:

  • Detailed vegetation report
  • Digital vegetation map
  • Vegetation plot data
  • Accuracy assessment data & analysis
  • Dichotomous vegetation key
  • Photo-interpretation key

Maps are produced in UTM coordinates (NAD 83) with a 1:24,000 scale and a minimum mapping unit of 0.5 hectares. The vegetation maps must meet the National Map Accuracy Standards for positional accuracy, and the minimum class accuracy goal across all vegetation and land cover classes of 80 percent.

Example Map

Status (December 2011)

To date, 129 NPS vegetation inventory (mapping) projects are complete and are being served on the internet. The program has ongoing projects in 136 NPS units. The program is 46% complete.

National parks in Alaska are being mapped using a different approach and scale using satellite imagery. For a description of the Alaska Landcover Inventory Program and project status, see:

Other links

More information

Updated 19 November 2010   I   Email: Webmaster
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