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Ecological Site Classification (ESC)

Home tool-and-resource Forestry and tree health resources Ecological Site Classification (ESC)

Ecological Site Classification (ESC) is a web-based decision support system to help forest managers and planners select tree species that are ecologically suited to particular sites, instead of selecting a species and trying to modify the site to suit.

How to access ESC4

ESC is designed to match key site factors with the ecological requirements of different tree species and woodland communities, as defined in the National Vegetation Classification (NVC) for Great Britain.

It provides a user-friendly way of working out options for tree species and native woodland communities on individual sites. The user is required to input just two pieces of site information:

  • Grid reference
  • Soil type

More precise estimates of soil quality and suitability of tree species and woodland communities can be obtained by inputting more detailed site information.

ESC assesses the suitability of a range of tree species and NVC woodland communities. The evaluation is based on the match between key site factors and the ecological requirements of different species and the ecology of woodland communities defined in the NVC.

ESC 4 incorporates future climate change projections for the 2050 and 2080 low and high scenarios of UKCP09 to allow users to incorporate future suitability into planting decisions. We advise the use of the high-emissions scenario for 2050, and encourage use of the high-emissions scenario for 2080.

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