Phytosociology has advanced in various respects since the fundamental groundwork was laid, which was mainly concerned with developing a classification system of vegetation units. Current site classification methods for forests consider not only floristic aspects, but also pedological, topographic and structural characteristics of forest stands. During the summer of 2007, a site mapping was carried out in the ETH Research Forest near Sedrun (Switzerland). This paper describes the methods employed, and it evaluates the applicability thereof based on case studies. Site mapping is based on expert opinion, and as such it includes a certain degree of generalization and subjectivity in the evaluation of stands and their assignment to a site type. However, we propose that site classification constitutes a suitable tool for describing and characterizing the complexity of forest sites. The accurate description of site types strongly facilitates the interpretation and the applicability of a classification system in decision support for sustainable forest management.

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