The display of the vegetation cover due to the peculiarities of the habitat conditions is one of the basic provisions of the national school of geobotanical mapping, originally developed under the conditions of unique natural diversity (Lavrenko, 1968, Sochava, 1979, Belov et al., 2002).

The accumulated experience of vegetation mapping at different scales shows that among the maps of vegetation cover many meet the objectives and principles of ecological mapping. Noting the unevenness of the study of the vegetation cover within individual countries and continents, one can state the general availability of knowledge about it on a planetary scale, which in itself creates an information foundation for setting and solving diverse environmental problems at the global level, with the possibility of adapting them to the conditions of individual regions. Vegetation maps act as inventories in the environmental assessment of the territory.

Universal scientific maps of vegetation include, as a rule, multifaceted information on the vegetation cover of the territory, reflecting the typological diversity of communities, their dynamic state, links with the landscape structure of the region, and other features of vegetation in all its variety. In essence, they represent the degree of study of the vegetation cover of the territory for a certain period of time. Universal scientific reference maps of vegetation "... show the distribution of vegetation cover units formed on the ground during its historical formation, as well as all those changes that they underwent under the influence of human activities and other external agents." (Sochava, 1979). These maps reflect the actual (modern), potential or restored vegetation cover.

Maps of the current vegetation cover show the plant communities that have survived on the territory and their derivative modifications, the distribution of which is determined by the contemporary natural conditions of the region. They are necessary for assessing the current state of vegetation cover and monitoring, using plant resources, for environmental impact assessment of various projects affecting the vegetation cover of the region, for the development of ecological networks and systems of specially protected natural areas, protection of botanical objects and other purposes.

The maps of restored vegetation cover have been widely spread, revealing the ecological potential of the territory to the fullest. These maps are based on the reconstruction of climatically and edaphically conditioned types of communities that existed on the territory before significant human influences in historically recent times (pre-cultural period). The mapping of the restored native vegetation in the plowed territories was first carried out by NI Kuznetsov when preparing the map "Vegetation of the European part of the USSR" in 1928 This reception of a combined display of modern vegetation against the background of restored vegetation cover, for example, forests in the area of ​​plowed land, is widely used on vegetation maps to date.

In many foreign cartographic schools, it is customary to display potential vegetation on maps. This concept was introduced in the middle of the last century by German botanist R. Tyuksen as a definition of vegetation formed on the site of the actual in modern natural conditions (climatic, orographic, edaphic) with the complete cessation of human impacts for 100 years. Potential vegetation corresponds to the current ecological potential of habitats and has, to some extent, a predictive character. A special group consists of predictive maps, which are usually compiled for present or potential vegetation, which will develop under specific conditions for a certain type of impact (in conditions of a given capacity, for example, an industrial enterprise, a dam or other objects) in within a limited period of time (the forecast is made for the period of preservation of the type of exposure within 20-50-100 years).

In the vegetation maps, extensive ecological information is encoded. According to the definition of VB Sochava (1979), vegetation on maps can be systematized according to the principles laid down in their compilation and the tasks they solve: 1) in accordance with the taxonomic system of plant communities; 2) according to the principle of ecological relations of communities with individual physical and geographical factors or their entire population; 3) for some or several features of communities that have some sort of cognitive and mainly special practical significance. Vegetation maps are maps of the inventory of the diversity, structure and condition of the vegetation cover of the territory.

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