Vegetation maps show the boundaries of plant communities and land types. Vegetation is classified on the basis of differences in floristic composition.
If vegetation cover is less than 10%, the land is defined as sparsely vegetated or non-vegetated land and classified on the basis of land type (e.g., lava fields and hydrothermal clay).
Digital image maps (orthophoto maps) are used for fieldwork. Satellite remote sensing is also useful for classification of vegetation and land types, and infrared Spot-5 images have been used in recent years in addition to image maps.
The IINH has published a vegetation map of Iceland at a scale of 1:500,000. The map provides a basic overview of dominant vegetation types in Iceland. The map is based on earlier vegetation maps, aerial photographs, satellite images, and a map of birch woods and scrubland produced by the Icelandic Forest Service. The map was published in 1998.
Work is underway on a comprehensive database of geographical information on vegetation in Iceland at a reference scale of 1:25,000. Using this database, a vegetation map of the Central Highland of Iceland has been published. The map covers around 42.700 km2, approximately 41% of the country. The IINH is currently in the process of mapping older data on the Icelandic lowlands and converting them to a digital format. This project is on track for completion within the next few years. The outcome will be a complete, countrywide database containing information on vegetation in Iceland at an accurate scale.
Vegetation is classified into 100 different sociations (see vegetation legend). There are 14 other land types, including glaciers, lakes, rivers, and barrens.
A total of 28 vegetation and parcel maps, showing five major vegetation types that are sub-divided into eight vegetation groups. Vegetation types are distinguished by colour. The maps also show land types, farm property boundaries, and county and district boundaries. The maps were published by the Icelandic Agricultural Research Institute (Rala) in the years 1977–1987.
A total of 11 vegetation and parcel maps at the scale of 1:20,000. They show vegetation and land types, farm property boundaries, and county and district boundaries. Vegetation is classified into 90 different plant sociations. The maps were published by the Icelandic Agricultural Research Institute (Rala) in the years 1968–1977.
A total of 65 vegetation maps at the scale of 1:40,000. They show vegetation and land types and rangeland in the highlands of Iceland. Vegetation is classified into 90 different plant sociations. Their purpose was to determine grazing tolerance of rangeland and manage land use for grazing. The maps were published by the Icelandic Agricultural Research Agency (Rala) in the years 1961–1980.