NVC types & their names



NVC types


Sea thrift growing in NVC maritime therophyte community MC5 Armeria maritima-Cerastium diffusum ssp. diffusum. © JNCC

The NVC comprises 286 community types subdivided amongst 12 major types of vegetation. These are arranged in the Lowland oak-birch woodland at Sherwood Forest, part of the W16 community in the NVCpublished NVC volumes as shown below (the codes for the types are given in brackets).


  • NVC Volume 1        Woodlands and scrub (W1-W25) 


  • NVC Volume 2        Mires (M1-M38); Heaths (H1-H22) 


  • NVC Volume 3        Mesotrophic grasslands (MG1-MG13)
                                       Calcicolous grasslands (CG1-CG14)
                                       Calcifugous grasslands and montane communities (U1-U21)
  • NVC Volume 4        Aquatic communities (A1-A24)
                                       Swamps and tall-herb fens (S1-S28) 


  • NVC Volume 5        Shingle, strandline and sand-dune communities (SD1-SD19)
                                       Salt-marsh communities (SM1-SM28)
                                       Maritime cliff communities (MC1-MC12)
                                       Vegetation of open habitats (OV1-OV42)

Many, but not all, of the NVC communities are broken down further into sub-communities, which total 578 in all. A very small number of especially bulky and complex communities have a third level of sub-division, into variants.


Considering the lowest sub-division of each type, except variants, the NVC comprises 681 units in all.





Lichen-rich, montane heath, NVC community H20 Vaccinium–Racomitrium heath growing on Glen Nevis. © Ian Strachan/JNCCNames of NVC communities and sub-communities

A spreadsheet containing the codes and names of all the NVC communities and sub-communities is available via this download: ‘NVC names codes’.  
This includes information on species used to define particular communities and sub-communities that have changed their scientific name/status since the publication of the original NVC volumes.
Wet heath vegetation (foreground), which is classified as M15 Scirpus cespitosus–Erica tetralix community within the NVC © JNCCCommon/vernacular names for NVC types have appeared in various publications. Work is currently underway to produce a recommended list of such names for all NVC communities, making it easier to communicate the interests of particular sites to individuals who are ‘alienated’ by the scientific names used in the published NVC volumes. This list will be made available as soon as it is finalised.