Abstract. We propose a hierarchical approach for plant functional classification in disturbed ecosystems to be used for vegetation modelling and global plant trait comparisons. Our framework is based on the persistence of plants at different levels of organization. We assume that the main parameters to determine persistence in chronically disturbed ecosystems are those related to: Individual-persistence capacity, Propagule-persistence capacity (persistence at the population level), Competitive capacity (persistence at the community level) and Dispersal capacity (persistence at the landscape level). The IPCD approach is illustrated for fire-prone and grazed ecosystems from the Mediterranean region and Australia and by assuming a binary classification of the four traits determining persistence which give a total 16 possible functional types. The IPCD framework provides a simple structured and synthetic view from which more elaborated schemes can be developed.