The need for an overall system of description for the British mainland and the many associated islands which were to be ecologically assessed led to the development of the National Vegetation Classification (NVC), which is the basis of the five volume description entitled 'British Plant Communities'. The first of these (Rodwell, 1991) deals with woodlands and scrub and has 25 main communities (W1-W25). These are in turn divided into subcommunities. Maps show the national distribution of the communities, which were delineated on the basis of Domin cover-abundance records for all the vascular and non-vascular plant species present, i.e. all plants, not just the dominant ones. Keys and detailed descriptions enable fresh sites to be allocated to the appropriate community and subcommunity. The distribution of particular vegetation types, one of which is described below in Box 1.3, is influenced by several factors amongst which climate and soil type are pre-eminent (see Section 2.4.1).
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