The production of a comprehensive national vegetation classification is a key action in the current National Biodiversity Plan. It will:
- Underpin a future national habitat map
- Aid in definition and identification of EU Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) Annex I habitats
- Inform the planning process, for example through Environmental Impact Assessments
- Facilitate the monitoring of vegetation change as a result of management or climate change
- Provide a detailed framework for academic research
- Enable greater interaction with European initiatives
Explore the classification
The IVC has a hierarchical structure with four levels. The aim of this hierarchy is to organise the 186 currently defined plant communities (the fundamental units of the classification) in an intuitive fashion and provide options for users in terms of the level of detail used in recording or mapping. The units of the four levels are:
- Divisions, which divide vegetation based on dominant growth forms and broad sets of diagnostic species.
- Groups, which divide divisions based on significant differences in the major environmental gradients.
- Communities, which divide groups based on specific differences in overall floristic composition.
- Sub-communities, which divide communities based on specific indicator species or subtle differences in floristic composition. Not all communities have sub-communities.
An organised list of all the communities can be downloaded here: list of categories.xlsx
Use the link below to explore the IVC and find links to individual community webpages. For each of the communities, a synopsis in PDF format can be downloaded from the respective webpage.
Use the classification tool
ERICA is a web application for assigning your own vegetation data to communities defined by the Irish Vegetation Classification. Data can be uploaded, checked for errors and analysed and the results can then be downloaded.
ERICA works with both quantitative vegetation cover data (such as are recorded in relevés and other types of botanical recording plots) and presence/absence data, such as species lists. ERICA covers all of the main habitat types, including grassland, woodland, duneland, saltmarsh, heath, bog, fen and mire, freshwater, saline water and rocky habitats, and weed communities.
A manual explaining the use of ERICA can be downloaded from within the application. It includes information on browser compatibility.
Click on the icon to open the application:
ERICOID is a slimmed down version of ERICA for use in the field as a quick reference tool. It is a progressive web application optimised for use on mobile phones. ERICOID is short for ‘ERICA for Android’ but it should work on all mobile phone types. Users can input a single vegetation sample and classify this to the IVC community level. Percentage cover scores can be entered but, again, presence-absence can be optionally used. Following analysis, the top five matches with IVC communities are displayed in order. Input tables and output tables can be download separately as timestamped .csv files. As ERICOID is a web application, a stable connection to the internet is required. For further details refer to Technical Progress Report No.6.
To ‘install’ ERICOID, simply follow the link below on your phone to open the application webpage. On Android phones use Chrome, whilst iOS phones should use Safari. Then use your phone’s “Add to Home Screen” function, which will add a shortcut to the home screen. With this shortcut the application will be displayed fullscreen.
National Vegetation Database
The National Vegetation Database (NVD) is held in software called Turboveg. It contains approximately 30,000 relevés and was the core building block from which the IVC was developed.
Vegetation data held within the database are in the form of relevés that have the minimum mandatory information: cover abundance scale used, date, relevé area (m2), grid reference, and recorder.
The NVD was established in 2007 by the National Biodiversity Data Centre, in conjunction with the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). Ireland has a rich history in the collection of vegetation data, and it was recognised that this information is a valuable resource that should be digitally captured in a centralised national database. The NPWS funded a national vegetation audit and a dedicated digitisation initiative from 2007-2012.
- In 2012, all data held within the NVD was converted into plant species records and added to Biodiversity Maps. Access metadata on this dataset
- The NVD is listed in the Global Index of Vegetation-Plot Databases (GIVD) and is part of the European Vegetation Archive. This allows Ireland to contribute to, and benefit from, shared knowledge and expertise.