Habitat Classification and
Field Reconnaissance

Finding a landcover mapping scheme that adequately communicates the potential for wildlife usage of a site can be a challenge. There are at least 4 common vegetation classification schemes available for use in Florida. The Florida Land Use Cover and Forms Classification System (FLUCFCS; FDOT 1999) is most commonly used in permit applications, while most GIS applications use the Vegetation Landcover data (FWC 1993). The Guide to the Natural Communities of Florida (FNAI 2010 edition) is more suitable than FLUCFCS for identifying imperiled species habitats or for planning habitat improvement projects. The FWC is also focusing on conserving the Priority Habitats identified in the State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP). For the purpose of identifying significant habitat elements in an area, either the FNAI Natural Communities Guide or the SWAP Priority Habitats are the preferred schemes. Therefore, this guide includes a crosswalk of these 4 vegetation classification schemes.

Following the identification of various potential habitats, it is necessary to conduct a field reconnaissance to verify or ground-truth the habitat information. Once the habitats are classified, a list of potentially occurring wildlife species can be developed. Then determine what wildlife species-specific surveys may be necessary to be conducted by a qualified biologist during the appropriate survey seasons.

Vegetation Community Cross-reference

Habitat Classification Guides

*CWCS has changed to State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP)