Due to Covid-19 we have had to cancel courses from March to 1st August, we hope you will find an event later in the year that you can attend.

The National Vegetation Classification (NVC) provides a formal description of British Plant Communities with many practical uses for site assessment and management. The course will introduce the background to the development of the NVC and visit a wide range of grassland types to demonstrate how the system works.

Participants will: be introduced to the standard field survey methodology of the NVC in a range of grassland habitats, use dichotomous keys and computer programmes to aid the assignment of field generated data to units of the NVC, be helped to understand the dynamics of community development especially in relation to edaphic and management factors. By the end of the course participants will be able to recognise different stands of vegetation in the field, survey a site using an appropriate sampling strategy, present their data in standard NVC format and discuss approaches to the production of an NVC map.


This is one of a series of courses (Units) run jointly with Manchester Metropolitan University contributing to the MSc Biological Recording and Ecological Monitoring and the Postgraduate Certificate in Biological Recording. To gain university credits you must be registered for the programme in advance of this course. For further details please contact:

Department of Natural Sciences, Manchester Metropolitan University, (Shrewsbury Office). E-mail: [email protected]  Phone: 01743 355137

The Unit will be assessed through, for example, identification tests, survey reports, field journals, production of keys, essays or other forms of assessment.

The course is also suitable for non-credit students. For further details on this course please contact FSC Head Office at [email protected]

Tutor: Hilary Wallace

Hilary Wallace is a freelance botanist with a special interest in plant community classification. With 30 years experience of using the NVC, Hilary is a regular tutor on NVC and plant identification courses.

Example Timetable

Please arrive at the centre between 15:00pm and 17:00pm on the first day of your course in good time for a welcome introduction and evening meal usually 18.30pm, after which the course commences with a short evening session.

Friday evening:
The background to the NVC and a review of methodology (Talk)

How to recognise and sample homogeneous stands of vegetation in the uplands. Field survey: Stapeley Hill, Shropshire. Upland grassland communities with an emphasis on community patterns at a landscape scale. Lab session: data tabulation and introduction to NVC keys. Evening – illustrated talk on community patterns in the uplands.

Lowland grassland at Mottey Meadows SAC. Field survey followed by Lab session including use of computers for data tabulation. Comparison of keys and computer programmes for the fitting of data collected in the field.

Talks: 1. NVC mapping and uses of NVC maps. 2. Community interrelationships on lowland floodplains and management implications. Field survey/lab session: Revision of methodology in semi-improved grassland around the study centre.

Accrediting Agency

Manchester Metropolitan University

What's Included

  • Expert Tuition
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Full Board Accommodation
  • Hot and Cold Drinks
  • In Course Transport
  • Personal and Travel Insurance

Before You Attend

What to Bring

  • Normal field work clothing, walking boots/wellingtons and waterproofs plus a small rucksack
  • Plant identification books
  • Clip boards/weather writers
  • Hand lenses (preferably x20) – Available from the Centre Shop
  • Any plant ID field guides
  • A sandwich box and a vacuum flask, are very useful.

Recommended Reading

  • Rodwell, J.S. ed. (1991) British Plant Communities Vol.3 Grasslands and Montane Communities. CUP
  • Rodwell, J.S. ed. (2000). British Plant Communities. Vol. 5 Maritime communities and vegetation of open habitats. CUP
  • FSC Foldout chart: Plant identification for Phase 1 habitat survey. Grassland and marsh.
  • Wallace, H. and Prosser, M (2017). A review of the National Vegetation Classification for the Calthion group of plant communities in England and Wales. Natural England Joint Publication JP021. Available to download here.
  • Please bring copies with you if you have access to them.