Department of Environmental Protection

Office of Natural Lands Management

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New Jersey’s Ecological Communities

The New Jersey Natural Heritage Program participates in the U.S. National Vegetation Classification initiative (USNVC). This collaborative effort by NatureServe, the Ecological Society of America, and various Federal agencies is working to create a standardized, scientifically credible classification system for the vegetation of North America.

The USNVC web site defines a plant community as, ‘an assemblage of plants that co-exist in a similar environment.’ Vegetation classification is, ‘the process of grouping stands of vegetation together based on those shared characteristics.’

In June 2021 U.S. National Vegetation Classification Version 2.031 was made available through the USNVC website. This release contains information on vegetation types for all levels of the new USNVC Hierarchy and is based on the Federal Geographic Data Committee Vegetation Subcommittee’s 2008 Standard. NatureServe Explorer links to the USNVC classification and can be used to search for ecological systems and communities documented in the state.

Staff of the New Jersey Natural Heritage Program have contributed ecological community data to the USNVC, and serve in a peer reviewer role for the northeast classification.

Classifications of New Jersey’s Vegetation Communities were published in 1989 and 2001. A third iteration is planned.