The effects of afforestation on upland plant communities: an application of the British National Vegetation Classification.
The British National Vegetation Classification (NVC) was used to describe the vegetation of a 49 000 ha conifer (Picea abies, P. sitchensis) plantation in Kielder Forest, Northumberland, UK. Some 18 NVC communities and sub-communities were recognized, of which 9 accounted for most of the unplanted land (11 000 ha). In the conifer plantation, 17% of stands had no vegetation, and 40% had vegetation cover and species diversity too low to fit recognizable NVC communities; only 5 communities were recognized within planted stands. Variation in floristic composition in a single community reflected natural variability (related to altitude and soils) and forestry operations (including land management, ploughing and planting). In general, widely distributed communities composed mainly of cosmopolitan species were resilient to the effects of plantations, whereas plant communities associated with more extreme conditions, high altitude and deep peats were more sensitive.