Mixed Spruce Swamp Forest. Photo by Patricia Swain, NHESP.
Mixed Spruce Swamp Forest. Photo by Patricia Swain, NHESP.

The classification of the natural communities of Massachusetts was written in order to provide a basis for discussing and conserving the diversity of our types of natural communities and the species they support. The primary aim is to describe the natural communities of conservation interest, while also including all the types in the state.

This classification divides natural community types into three major sections: Terrestrial, Palustrine, and Estuarine. Because of the total size of the classification document, each community type is available individually. Additional sections with the Introduction and Appendices including References and lists of community types are included separately.

The classification is provided as PDF files. To view these files you will need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader.

The Preferred citation for the 2016 revision of the Classification of Natural Communities of Massachusetts is:

Swain, P.C. 2016. Classification of the Natural Communities of Massachusetts. Version 2.0. Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. Westborough, MA.

•Table of Contents, Introduction, and References - Coming Soon 
• Appendices, Lists of Community Types with Rank by Rank - Coming Soon
Terrestrial, Palustrine, and Estuarine Community Types

NOTE: NHESP is in the process of revising and updating The Classification of the Natural Communities of Massachusetts. As part of the natural community revisions, we have updated the NHESP Natural Communities datalayer on MassGIS. The June 2016 MassGIS datalayer reflects the increased number of natural community occurrences in the NHESP database, previously updated in 2011. The 2016 datalayer uses the revised community names, ranks, and descriptions from the Classification of Natural Communities of Massachusetts Version 2.0.