Cover Type Classification of the Forest Lake Club

Cover types are groups or aggregates of plants that occupy or "cover" a given piece of land at a particular time. They are the types of vegetation that dominate a given area. In forests, they are the species of the dominant overstory or upper canopy layer of vegetation. In certain swamps, shrubs may form the vegetative cover; various species of grasses dominate prairie landscapes.

Cover types are typically identified and mapped using aerial photographs of an area along with ground reconnaissance. A combination of black-white and infra-red photographs, both leaf-on and leaf-off, serve this purpose very well. Ground checking follows the initial determination from aerial photographs. In the case of the Forest Lake Club it was much more difficult to use aerial photography due to the presence of so many species of oak, and the difficulty in telling these species apart from photographs. In this situation, great emphasis was placed on ground work to determine the types. To define the types, criteria are established specifying what constitutes each cover type. The criteria defining the types are typically set by the investigator for the area to be mapped. Typically, cover types are necessarily rather broad categories because of the complexity of the existing vegetation, especially on lands that have been disturbed by humans. Therefore, in addition to using just the Cover Type Map, it is important to also read the Cover Type Classification to understand the range of possibility of each of the types.

Cover type maps and classifications are quite useful to gain an understanding of the general types of vegetation of an area. For example, one can get a good grasp of the species composition and distribution over an area. For this reason, cover type maps and documentation are indispensable in land management.

Click here to download the Cover Type Classification

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