Vegetation cover is mapped using a national classification adapted from that used in the 1st edition LUC Survey Handbook, and NZLRI mapping (Hunter & Blaschke 1986). Edition 2 vegetation symbols have been changed from the earlier versions to better relate to the vegetation classes (Page 1987).

The NZLRI vegetation classification contains 52 classes (each NZLRI vegetation class is described in Appendix 3 of the LUC Handbook) arranged into five major groups: grass, crop, scrub, forest, and herbaceous (see also Table 11 in the handbook).

Where possible a map polygon should contain a single vegetation class. However, due to scale and the patterns of vegetation distribution, this is often not possible, and up to four vegetation classes can be recorded in a map polygon. The distribution of vegetation is recorded as either ‘clumped’ (areas of continuous cover) or ‘scattered’ (discontinuous cover). 

Within each map polygon, where more than a single class is recorded, the area of the polygon occupied by each clumped class is estimated to the nearest 10% and recorded by a subscript in the code, e.g. gI7sM3 records a 70% cover of improved pasture and a 30% cover of manuka scrub

Scattered vegetation is denoted by an asterisk after the class symbol, which indicates it is scattered throughout the preceding clumped vegetation class. For example, gIsM* is improved pasture with scattered manuka.

For additional information see section 2.5 and Appendix 3 in the LUC Handbook.