Natural Communities

A natural community is a collection of plants and animals that exists in the same habitat or area and interact with one another. Natural communities include land cover types, which are the habitat types found on the land or ground. There are many land cover types, including both natural land cover types and land that has been affected by agriculture or development.

The Habitat Plan, by providing a coordinated conservation approach, seeks to protect, enhance, and restore natural communities throughout the Santa Clara region.  To support these efforts, fees and conditions are placed on covered activities that may impact specific land cover types.

In the Habitat Plan area, seven natural communities and two additional land cover categories (agriculture and developed) are defined. These are listed below, along with their constituent land cover types.

Natural Community Land Cover Type
Grassland California annual grassland
Non-serpentine native grassland (not mapped)
Serpentine bunchgrass grassland
Serpentine rock outcrop
Serpentine seep
Rock outcrop

Chaparral and Northern Coastal Scrub 

Northern mixed chaparral/chamise chaparral
Mixed serpentine chaparral
Northern coastal scrub/Diablan sage scrub
Coyote brush scrub
Oak Woodland Valley oak woodland
Mixed oak woodland and forest
Blue oak woodland
Coast live oak forest and woodland
Foothill pine - oak woodland
Mixed evergreen forest
Riparian Forest and Scrub Willow riparian forest and scrub
Central California sycamore alluvial woodland
Mixed riparian forest and woodland
Riverine (also called streams)
Conifer Woodland Redwood forest
Ponderosa pine woodland
Knobcone pine woodland
Wetland Coastal and valley freshwater marsh
Open Water (Aquatic) Pond
Agriculture Orchard
Agriculture developed
Grain, row-crop, hay and pasture, disked/short-term fallowed
Developed Urban-Suburban
Rural residential (<1 unit per 2.5 acres)
Golf courses/Urban parks
Ornamental woodland