The Vegetation Classification and Mapping Program
The Vegetation Classification and Mapping Program (VegCAMP) develops and maintains California's expression of the National Vegetation Classification System. We implement its use through assessment and mapping projects in high-priority conservation and management areas, through training programs, and through working continuously on best management practices for field assessment, classification of vegetation data, and fine-scale vegetation mapping.
Available as of April 2013: California Desert Vegetation Map in Support of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan.
Aerial Information Systems (AIS) and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Vegetation Classification and Mapping Program (VegCAMP) with assistance from the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) created a fine-scale vegetation map of portions of the Mojave and Colorado Deserts in California. Approximately six million acres spanning desert portions of Inyo, Kern, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, and Imperial Counties were mapped between 2011 and 2012. The primary purpose was to develop an accurate vegetation map for the California desert as it pertains to renewable energy sources and conservation opportunities, helping planners identify high quality habitat and rare communities.
The map, which meets state and federal standards, provides vegetation type and additional attributes such as total shrub cover, Joshua tree cover, roadedness, and development. It should have many uses in land use planning and wildlife habitat prediction, and will serve as a baseline for monitoring impacts of climate change. The work was produced with funding from the California Energy Commission, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Wildlife Conservation Board, and the Department. The map can be accessed through BIOS (ds735).
This dataset, and those from Joshua Tree National Park, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and the Mojave Desert Ecosystem Programís Central Mojave were used along with the California Gap Vegetation (2008) to create a landcover dataset, whose vegetation classification was crosswalked to the NVCS group. It and point observations of important vegetation types are also available through BIOS (ds819, ds820). For more information, please see: Description of the DRECP Landcover Dataset, 2013.
Vegetation and Conservation
Vegetation is often considered to be the best single surrogate for habitat and ecosystems. Vegetation science has thus played an increasing role in wildlife and natural lands conservation and management over the years and is now among the principal tools involved in wildlands management and planning.
The Vegetation Classification and Mapping Program (VegCAMP) is a synthesis of the Natural Communities program within the California Natural Diversity Database and the Significant Natural Areas Program. This enables a more focused effort on developing and maintaining maps and the classification of all vegetation and habitats in the state to support conservation and management decisions at the local, regional and state levels.
In August 2007, VegCAMP received a Proposition 84 grant from the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) to further the development of a statewide vegetation classification and mapping program for the State of California. The first map product VegCAMP will produce with these funds will be for the northern Sierra Nevada Foothills. The WCB and the Department have identified additional priority areas for future projects.
Also in 2007, the State Legislature required the Department of Fish and Game to develop a vegetation mapping standard for the state. The following report has been provided to the Legislature.
The principal roles of the program include:
- Developing and maintaining a standardized vegetation classification system for California
- Implementing and updating best methods of vegetation assessment including sampling, analyzing, reporting, and mapping vegetation at multiple scales
- Training resource professionals on these techniques and coordinating with other agencies and organizations to ensure a statewide, standardized approach toward collecting, reporting, and interpreting vegetation data
- Developing best practices for using these data for long-range conservation and management of natural lands in the state
- Conducting integrated vegetation assessments throughout the state in areas with high conservation and management interest to the Department of Fish and Game and other agencies
- Archiving and distributing quality vegetation data
- Coordinating with other state, federal, and local agencies and organizations involved in vegetation assessment
- Integrating standard vegetation classification systems with species distributions to encourage unified habitat assessments and conservation efforts
Long-range goals of the program include:
- Completing and maintaining a state-wide vegetation map and classification in collaboration with other agencies and organizations
- Developing and updating the most appropriate vegetation products for conservation planning and natural resources management within the state
- Integrating the program with similar ones from other states and countries to facilitate national and international conservation and management of natural resources
Applications of VegCAMP efforts to analyses of statewide spatial data include:
- Regional conservation planning
- Wildlands fire/fuels modeling for improved preparedness
- Identifying individual plant and animal species distributions
- Predicting the spread of invasive species
- Early scoping for transportation projects to minimize impacts
- Prioritizing land acquisitions for parks and ecological reserves
- Identifying important wildlife corridors
- Setting a baseline for monitoring impacts of global climate change