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 30 – September 1, 2022
Santa Cruz, CA
Taught by Jennifer Buck-Diaz and Jaime Ratchford

CNPS Members $460 / Non-Members $485
Capacity: 20 participants
Last Day to Register: August 16, 2022



Target Audience: Professional and student botanists, ecologists, resource managers, 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 rare 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:

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

Schedule & Locale

Tuesday, August 30

Meet at the UC Santa Cruz 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 31

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, September 1

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 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-sleeve shirts and pants to protect from poison oak and ticks
  • Field-friendly lunches and plenty of water and snacks
  • Sunscreen

Optional additional items include:

  • Compass and/with clinometer
  • Binoculars
  • Digital camera
  • GPS unit

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.

COVID Protocols: All workshop participants need to be fully vaccinated or receive a negative COVID-19 lab test result within three days of the workshop, providing proof of vaccination/test before attending.*

About the Instructors

Jennifer Buck-Diaz

Jennifer Buck-Diaz 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, Jennifer worked as an ecologist with The Nature Conservancy at the Cosumnes River Preserve. She holds a B.S. and M.S. in Plant Biology from the University of California, Davis.

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 Tuesday, August 16, 2022. 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!

The Vegetation Sampling Workshop is full. Contact Alyssa at to be placed on the wait list.

Scholarships Available

CNPS is committed to reducing barriers and broadening participation in our workshops. We are offering financial support opportunities for students and early professionals who may not otherwise be able to attend. This scholarship will cover the cost of one CNPS plant science workshop. In some instances, CNPS will also provide monetary assistance for travel and accommodations. 

The scholarship form is due four weeks before the workshop date that you would like to attend. You will be notified within three weeks of the workshop date about the financial aid determination. Please click here to fill out the form to be considered as a potential recipient of a workshop scholarship.