Introduction to the Circumboreal vegetation map (CBVM) project

Stephen S. TALBOT
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Anchorage, USA

The Circumboreal Vegetation Mapping group is a subgroup within the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) Flora Group devoted to mapping the vegetation of the boreal region (scale 1 : 7.5 million). Vegetation maps of the circumboreal region currently exist at a wide variety of scales using many legend approaches; these were developed by numerous authors for a wide variety of disparate applications but were not integrated into a unified system. The development of the CBVM through a unified legend approach aims at understanding the boreal in a new way that looks beyond the confines of regional approaches. In this respect it will form an important information, assessment and planning tool for solving nature and environmental protection problems at a global level. The need for a CBVM was discussed at an international circumpolar vegetation workshop in Norway (2004) where participants resolved to develop a unified international method for classifying and mapping boreal vegetation expanding the area covered by the Circumpolar Arctic Vegetation Map far to the south. Following this workshop the CBVM group met in a several workshops in Canada, Faroe Islands, Finland, and Sweden. At the CBVM workshop in Iceland (2011), participants agreed to test a preliminary legend in several prototype areas of Alaska, Canada, and Russia; these results and those of all CBVM workshops document and record our approach and progress; they may be accessed online HERE. The CBVM will portray potential natural vegetation rather than existing vegetation that is commonly generated by classification of satellite imagery. Although still under development, the CBVM Vegetation Legend has been strongly influenced by the principles used in the development of the Map of the Natural Vegetation of Europe. The proposed legend will be a hierarchy that at the highest levels should reflect the most essential regularities common for the boreal zone of both continents (Eurasia and North America). Moving down the hierarchy, the legend will reflect more detailed divergence in regional vegetation structure and composition.

2012 Organizing Committee