In January 2007 the National Vegetation Database (NVD) was established by the National Biodiversity Data Centre, in conjunction with the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Ireland has a rich history in the collection of vegetation data, and it was recognised that this information is a valuable resource that should be digitally captured in a centralised national database.
- The NVD is coordinated and managed by the Data Centre. The National Parks and Wildlife Service funded a national vegetation audit in 2007 which identified sources of vegetation data in Ireland and was core to development of the database. They also funded a full time research officer who worked on the project in the Centre, concentrating on data entry from 2007-2012.
- The first phase of the project was the historical data capture of existing Irish vegetation relevés (2007-2012). As of May 2012, there are approximately 30,000 relevés in the NVD which is held in the vegetation data management software called Turboveg.
- The process of data capture is ongoing since 2012 as new surveys become available.
- Each relevé provides detailed information about the plant community present at a known point in time and from a traceable location. As such, it is an important national baseline that can be used to track changes in the Irish landscape.
- Extensive use is already being made of the NVD. It provides access to historical data to inform and direct both current habitat surveys and academic research. It is contributing information to European vegetation initiatives, ensuring that Ireland is part of a wider Europe and can contribute to and benefit from shared knowledge and expertise.
- The NVD creates a core building block from which an Irish vegetation classification system (INVC) can be developed. The development of an INVC is a key objective in the National Biodiversity Plan as the ability to describe and quantify our vegetation resource will provide sound scientific advice for nature conservation, particularly in protected site selection.