CNPS is committed to sharing trusted resources and information that raises the bar for native plant science and conservation. Following is a broad collection of links to tools we use regularly on the job and in our training workshops. We thank our government, NGO, and private industry partners working alongside us to provide this helpful collection. If you have updates or suggestions for this page, please contact us at

California vegetation information, maps & other products

California Native Plant Society

Vegetation Program
The principal goals of the Program are to develop, promote, and maintain a uniform vegetation classification in California, and to develop defensible definitions of the rare vegetation of the state.

Vegetation Classification & Mapping Reports (Coming soon)
Manual of California Vegetation Online
Field Protocols & Resources
Tutorial | Mapping of Rare Vegetation Types
Fremontia journal
California’s Botanical Landscapes

California Department of Fish & Wildlife

The Biogeographic Information and Observation System (BIOS) shares data online to enable the management, visualization, and analysis of biogeographic data collected by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and its Partner Organizations.  Search on “vegetation” to see available vegetation maps, or search on other terms such as “fveg” or “SWAP”.

Esri CDFW Open Data
This website provides the public datasets from BIOS, both for viewing and download. You also can analyze and combine Open Datasets using maps, and develop new web and mobile applications. Please check BIOS for most recent updates, however.

Vegetation Classification & Mapping Program (VegCAMP)

VegCAMP develops and maintains California’s expression of the U.S. National Vegetation Classification System and provides standards for vegetation assessment including sampling, analyzing, reporting, and mapping vegetation at multiple scales.

Shared Vision for the Survey of California Vegetation (business case and overview)

VegCAMP – discussion on sensitive natural communities

Natural Communities List
Natural Communities List Arranged Alphabetically by Life Form: PDF | Excel
Sensitive Natural Communities Only by Life Form: PDF | Excel
Recent changes in Natural Communities: PDF
Recent changes in Natural Communities Rarity: PDF

Protocols for Surveying and Evaluating Impacts to Special Status Native Plant Populations and Natural Communities

Rapid Assessment and Relevé Survey Field Form
Rapid Assessment and Relevé Survey Protocol

Classification and Mapping
CDFW Standards
Project Deliverables and Report Outline
Alliance-level Vegetation Mapping — Downloadable Blank Geodatabase

Reports and Maps

Example comment letters on Draft EIRs addressing rare natural communities
Sand Canyon Mixed Use Project DEIR Comment Letter
Gordon Mull Subdivision DSEIR Comment Letter
Beau Pre Heights Subdivision IS/MND Comment Letter
Juniper Woodland conservation efforts in Los Angeles County Letter

Other state websites

ACE III is an updated tool to provide data to guiding and informing conservation priorities in California. This newest iteration became available in early February 2018 and operates on the BIOS platform.

Fire and Resource Assessment Program
A program within the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection including information and spatial data on environmental indicators, fire threat, watersheds, forests and rangelands.

Historic California Vegetation Mapping
The Weislander Vegetation Type Mapping project provides a snapshot of California’s vegetation in the early 20th century. This website allows you to view and download historic vegetation maps, surveys, and photographs taken in the 1920’s and 1930’s for almost half of California.

USDA Forest Service’s California Vegetation Classification & Mapping

The Pacific Southwest Region’s (R5) Vegetation Ecology program consists of three components: Inventory, Classification and Mapping. This cooperative mapping and resource assessment program employs the CALVEG system.

National Websites

U.S. National Vegetation Classification

The National Vegetation Classification is a central organizing framework for documentation, inventory, monitoring, and study of vegetation in the U.S., from broad scale formations like forests to fine-scale plant communities. Users can produce uniform statistics about vegetation resources across the nation at local, regional, or national levels.

See to explore the most recent hierarchical classification.


NatureServe contains descriptions and citations of vegetation alliances and associations compliant with the USNVC definitions. It does not contain the definitions of groups, macrogroups, and other hierarchical definitions of the USNVC. The descriptions are formatted slightly differently than the USNVC information for alliances and associations, but contain the same information.


Data Basin is a science-based mapping and analysis platform that supports learning, research, and sustainable environmental stewardship. You can generate custom analyses and summary reports of your data.

National Park Service Vegetation Inventory Products

The Vegetation Inventory Program has been a collaborative arrangement between the USGS Center for Biological Informatics and the NPS since 1992.

USFWS National Wetlands Mapper

The Wetlands mapper integrates digital map data along with other resource information to produce current information on the status, extent, characteristics and functions of wetlands, riparian, and deepwater habitats. This information is intended to promote the understanding and conservation of wetland resources.