Welcome to the ecology group at the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation's (DCR) Natural Heritage Program (VANHP). Here you will find information about the wealth of natural communities in the Commonwealth, the latest version of the Virginia state community classification, and PDF downloads of special presentations and documents.
Our group is part of the Inventory section at VANHP. We are vegetation ecologists, but work closely with zoologists, geologists, soil scientists, hydrologists, and other specialists to understand the complex interactions between plants, animals, and the physical environment. Our primary mission is to inventory the full range of natural communities in Virginia, develop a formal classification of ecological communities, and identify outstanding examples of all community types as priorities for protection. We hope this ongoing work will assist land owners and resource managers in understanding the landscape ecology of Virginia and conserving important ecosystems. We also work closely with our colleagues at NatureServe to ensure that the information we generate is incorporated into the National Vegetation Classification and other larger-scale projects.
In addition to conducting general inventories across Virginia, we have a long and successful track record of providing contract services to federal and local agencies and private organizations. Click here for more information about these projects and our services.
The Second Approximation (Version 2.6) of The Natural Communities of Virginia: Classification of Ecological Community Groups is now on line. This is a refined, expanded, and fully illustrated update to the First Approximation that was released in 2001. Significant updates to the web version of the Second Approximation have recently been implemented, including hyperlinks to the National Vegetation Classification and to photographs of many plant and animal species mentioned in the text.
A hard-copy version of the classification will be available as a PDF download when the Third Approximation is implemented. Other PDF downloads will be made available periodically. Please check back often. These documents require the free Adobe reader.
We welcome and appreciate comments or feedback on our work, as well as information or questions concerning Virginia's natural communities. Please direct inquiries to any member of the VANHP Ecology Staff: