Use of NVC


NVC surveyors at work in an anicent woodland near Peterborough © JNCC

A common languague


Since its publication during 1991-2000, the NVC has been widely welcomed as providing a much-needed common language in which the character and value of the vegetation of Britain can be understood. It has been accepted as a core standard, not only by the nature conservation and countryside organisations, but also by forestry, agriculture and water agencies, local authorities, non-governmental organisations, major industries and universities. Its popularity is evidenced by the sale of over 10,000 copies of the main volumes.


The NVC in itself is not a monitoring tool, but is used to help furnish protocols for particular monitoring programmes and to develop a conceptual basis for understanding the purpose and practice of monitoring. The predictive capacity of the NVC means that it can also serve as a basis for developing management options for sites or landscapes and as a framework for restoration and design guidelines.


NVC map for part of the Scottish coastline, composed mainly of saltmarsh and mire communities © JNCC

The main terrestrial habitat classification


Importantly, the NVC acts as the main terrestrial habitat classification for:





  • detailed (Phase 2) ecological site survey and assessments – it is used widely by the UK conservation agencies and many other organisations to produce inventories and maps of plant communities (see example to right) on designated or threatened sites.