Successful first year of Vegetation Classification and Survey (VCS)

Post provided by Jürgen Dengler (VCS Chief Editor)

Vegetation Classification and Survey (VCS), the new gold open access journal of IAVS devoted to vegetation classification and ecoinformatics, has completed a successful first year. We published a total of 22 articles with together 220 pages. The contributions came from all continents and dealt with many different vegetation types. There were also methodological and conceptual contributions and various Database Reports on vegetation-plot databases stored in the Global Index of Vegetation-Plot Databases (GIVD). We Chief Editors have selected three articles from the first volume which we consider exemplary for contributions we would like to see in VCS:

Abutaha et al. (2020) provided the first classification of the vegetation units on Gebel Elba, an arid mountain range in southeastern Egypt, and identified the environmental factors controlling their distribution. Nowak et al. (2020) addressed the diversity of tall-forb vegetation of Middle Asia, using a rich dataset of 244 relevés from throughout Tajikistan and southern Kyrgyzstan. Finally, Zeballos et al. (2020) conducted a vegetation survey on the southernmost representation of the seasonally dry forests in South America, the subtropical espinal forests in Central Argentina. They highlight at the same time that this is an extremely threatened vegetation type, with only about 3% of the original extent surviving to date. All these articles are not only supported by rich plot datasets, but also illustrated with instructive photo plates of the main vegetation units distinguished. These and all other articles from 2020 can be freely downloaded from the journal website at Those who wish to have the complete volume printed in full colour can also order it at a quite reasonable price from

While starting a new journal is always challenging when authors are under pressure to publish in journals with impact factor, while only after a few years a new journal can obtain such, it is double hard for an open access journal as on top of that authors also have to afford article processing charges (APCs) (Jansen et al., 2020). Thus, initially the number of submissions to VCS was rather low; however, thanks to the generous decision of IAVS to completely waive the APCs for first authors who are members of the association, has led to a significant increase in submissions in the second half of 2020.

In our annual editorial (Willner et al., 2021) we review the challenges and achievements of the first year and provide an outlook on the next 12 months. Two Special Collections are on the way, one on “Classification of grasslands and other open vegetation types in the Palaearctic” together with the IAVS Working Group EDGG, one on “The ‘International Vegetation Classification’ initiative: case studies, syntheses, and perspectives on ecosystem diversity around the globe”. We also have introduced a new article type “VCS Methods” for comparing existing and presenting new methods related to vegetation sampling and vegetation classification. A first such article is devoted to a new method to combine vegetation sampling in semi-natural grasslands with a detailed survey of land use practices (Janišová et al., 2021). Free publication for IAVS members will still be available for all manuscripts to be submitted until end of 2021 (provided they are accepted after peer review). So take the chance to send your interesting studies on typologies of vegetation anywhere on the globe, and if you are not yet IAVS member, you can join at low cost or possibly even for free (see the Membership section of website for the offer of membership waivers). Last not least, don’t forget that VCS is also a major outlet for any publication on ecoinformatics related to vegetation.


  • Abutaha, M.M., El-Khouly, A.A., Jürgens, N. & Oldeland, J. (2020) Plant communities and their environmental drivers on an arid mountain, Geb­el Elba, Egypt. Vegetation Classification and Survey, 1, 21–36. https://
  • Janišová, M., Iuga, A., Ivașcu, C.M. & Magnes, M. (2021) Grassland with tradition: sampling across several scientific disciplines. Vegetation Classification and Survey, 2, 19–35.
  • Jansen, F., Biurrun, I., Dengler, J. & Willner, W. (2020) Vegetation classification goes open access. Vegetation Classification and Survey, 1, 1–6.
  • Nowak, A., Świerszcz, S., Nowak, S. & Nobis, M. (2020) Classification of tall-forb vegetation in the Pamir-Alai and western Tian Shan Mountains (Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, Middle Asia). Vegetation Classification and Survey, 1, 191–217.
  • Willner, W., Biurrun, I., Dengler, J. & Jansen, F. (2021) Vegetation Classification and Survey: the first year. Vegetation Classification and Survey, 2, 1–4.
  • Zeballos, S.R., Giorgis, M.A., Cabido, M.R., Acosta, A.T.R., Iglesias, M. del R. & Cantero, J.J. (2020) The lowland seasonally dry subtropical forests in central Argentina: vegetation types and a call for conservation. Vegetation Classification and Survey, 1, 87–102.