What is an Ecological Survey?

There are a wide scope of assessments which constitute an Ecology Survey, these span from basic Ecological Scoping Surveys to more specific and detailed NVC (National Vegetation Classification), Hedgerow, Botanical, River Corridor, Protected Species, Invasive Plant Speciesand Ecological Assessments.

The most commonly accepted initial and baseline Ecological Assessment however, is a Phase 1 Habitat Survey which includes the study, identification and mapping of important wildlife habitats. This allows for an assessment of a site’s ecological importance and significant habitat features (property, plot of land, established boundary area) and informs the necessity for additional survey work.

During the undertaking of a Phase 1 Habitat Survey* a record is made of important ecological habitat features; these are an indication of important site observations, are noted as ‘target notes’ and can include features such as rare plants/animals, foraging areas, roosting sites or special habitat features such as ancient hedgerows (illustrated on a Phase 1 Habitat Survey Map).

The systematic process for a Phase 1 Habitat Survey is carried first by completing the Site Survey (ecological assessment of the site’s habitats), this is followed by the completion of the Phase 1 Habitat Map (detailing major habitat types and valuable ecological site components) and concluded with the completion of the Ecological Assessment Report (produced to JNCC standard phase 1 habitat survey classification).

Whilst obtaining the correct information early on at the design stage of a project can save considerable time and reduce cost, a Phase 1 Habitat Survey can be carried out throughout the year. However, restrictions to live vegetation may hinder the findings and additional survey works are subject to seasonal constraints, i.e. they have to take account of optimum survey periods for protected species; factoring these in at an early stage can streamline design scheduling.

* A Phase 1 Habitat Survey is often referred to as a Habitat Survey, Eco Phase 1 or Wildlife Survey and is the industry standard for UK ecologists when classifying and mapping British habitats in accordance with the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC)

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