In this workshop you will learn to sample vegetation hands-on using the rapid assessment/relevé survey methods, which provide scientific methodologies to collect data crucial for knowing and understanding California’s unique vegetation communities. Read on for details.

Vegetation Rapid Assessment/Relevé

August 18-20, 2020
Santa Cruz, CA
Taught by Betsy Harbert & Jaime Ratchford
Download Full Prospectus

CNPS Members $375 / Non-Members $395
Capacity: 20 participants
Last Day to Register: August 2, 2020



Target Audience: Professional and student botanists, ecologists, resource managers, environmental consultants, and conservationists. Participants should have an initial understanding of the subject matter and basic plant identification skills.

Full Description: This course will be a combination of lecture and field exercises in vegetation sampling with a focus on collecting data using the CNPS-CDFW combined vegetation rapid assessment and relevé methods. We will discuss applications of fine-scale vegetation sampling, classification, and mapping, how to document sensitive natural communities, and how vegetation information fits into planning documents.

To earn a certificate of completion, participants will need to successfully complete two vegetation rapid assessment field forms on the final day.

Participants will learn:

  • How to collect data using the CNPS-CDFW combined vegetation rapid assessment/relevé method
  • How to identify vegetation types to alliance and association using the MCV
  • How to document sensitive natural communities
  • How vegetation information fits into County General Management Plans, CEQA, HCPs, NCCPs, etc.
  • How vegetation sampling is used for mapping projects
  • How vegetation types and attributes can be mapped
  • Applications of fine-scale vegetation sampling, classification and mapping

Schedule & Locale

Tuesday, August 18

Meet at the UCSC Arboretum. Indoor lecture, classroom setting.

2:00 pm
Introductions and overview: vegetation sampling, analysis, classification, and mapping

5:00 pm
Break for the day

Wednesday, August 19

Meet at designated field site. Field exercises all day.

8:30 am
Field exercises: introduction to the combined vegetation rapid assessment/relevé method; estimating percent cover of vegetation layers

Lunch in the field (please bring your own lunch and water)

1:00 pm
Field exercise as a group: conduct a field survey using the vegetation rapid assessment method

4:30 pm
Regroup for Q&A

5:00 pm
Break for the day

Thursday, August 20

Meet at designated field site. Field exercises all day.

8:30 am
Review rapid assessment protocol

9:30 am
Field exercise in small groups: select vegetation types for sampling, conduct first rapid assessment

Lunch in the field (please bring your own lunch and water)

1:00 pm
Field exercise in small groups: conduct second rapid assessment, using a different vegetation type

3:30 pm
Q&A; submit field forms for certificate of completion; course evaluations

4:00 pm
Workshop concludes

Schedule subject to change.

Venue: The day 1 classroom portion of this workshop will be held in the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum Meeting Hall (Horticulture II), located on the west side of campus. Field exercises on days 2 and 3 will take place at nearby locations TBA. Additional details and driving directions will be provided to registered participants about a week before the workshop.

Materials & Requirements

Please bring...

  • Clipboard
  • Notebook and pencils
  • Sturdy boots and field clothes appropriate for conditions, including long shirts/pants to protect from poison oak and ticks
  • Field-friendly lunches and plenty of water and snacks for Wednesday and Thursday
  • Sunscreen
  • Tecnu

Optional additional items include:

  • Compass and/with clinometer
  • Binoculars
  • Digital camera
  • GPS unit
  • Local plant field guides or keys

Materials Provided: CNPS will provide data sheets, maps, and references for all field exercises, and a certificate of completion after successfully completing two vegetation rapid assessment field forms on the final day.

Physical Requirements: Participants should be physically able to hike over uneven terrain and remain in the field for up to 8.5 hours at a time. This workshop will be held rain or shine. We will spend approximately 80-85% of the time in the field.

About the Instructors

Betsy Harbert

Betsy Harbert is a vegetation ecologist and botanist with the CNPS vegetation program. She brings to CNPS extensive work experience with different plant communities across the western United States. Prior to joining CNPS, Betsy worked as an ecologist with South Yuba River Citizens League and the Army Corps of Engineers. She holds a B.S. in plant biology from UC Davis and an M.S. in Ecology from CSU Fort Collins.

Jaime Ratchford

Jaime Ratchford is a vegetation ecologist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Vegetation Classification and Mapping Program (VegCAMP). Prior to joining VegCAMP, Jaime worked as an associate vegetation ecologist with the CNPS Vegetation Program. She has several years of experience conducting vegetation surveys and assisting in several classification and mapping projects throughout California. She holds a B.S. and M.A. in Biology from Humboldt State University.


Before registering, please review our full workshop cancellation policy and participant expectations. The last day to cancel your registration for this workshop and receive any refund (less the cancellation fee) is Monday, July 20, 2020. For other ways to register, please see our full registration & payment policy.

Did you know CNPS members get discounts on workshops? If you’re not a current member, you can join or renew now before completing the registration form below to qualify for special members-only rates!