Please note: This course is non-residential.

An introduction to the Phase I Habitat Survey method and a focus on plant identification geared to the requirements of the technique. This is a rapid qualitative system developed by NCC (Nature Conservancy Council) in the early 1980’s, which quickly became the standard methodology for obtaining basic habitat quality information across the wider countryside and within urban wildspace. Course fee includes: Phase 1 Habitat Survey manual. A general knowledge of plant species is required to complete Phase I surveys, thus guidance will be given on developing this area of expertise. The relationship of habitat type to topography, substrate and hydrology will also be highlighted. We will be looking at a number of habitat types available to us within Epping Forest and in the local area including broadleaved woodland, lowland heath, acid and neutral grasslands, marsh, running and still water and hedges. As we visit each habitat we will look at key species identification and what site information to obtain for our assessment of habitat quality. The writing of target notes will be developed and habitat maps will be produced for the sites visited.

Current software and IT applications will be covered also. Conclusions will be drawn in the form of brief citations – reports.

With two areas to be visited, Day 1 will be in Epping Forest itself looking at woodland, heath, ponds and acid to neutral grassland. The second area, on Day 2, will be in the Roding Valley where there are neutral grasslands, marsh, secondary woodland, hedges and running water to explore.

Tutor: Sharon Brown

Sharon Brown is a botanist – geographer currently working as an independent ecologist with habitat assessment and management as a main area of expertise. Over time she has also worked for the Nature Conservancy Council, Scottish Rangering, Wildlife Trusts and latterly as an associate tutor for the FSC. As a naturalist she has a fascination for wild places, as well as the wild in more urban settings and an enthusiasm for passing this to others through practical application.

Example Timetable


09.30 Registration
10.00 Welcome, Health and Safety and Introduction
10.15 Introduction to the Phase I Survey: the mapping technique. Introduction to the field surveys for the day.
10.50 Break
11.00 Field survey of woodland/forest, acid grassland, lowland heath and a pond
13.00 Lunch
13.30 Field survey of acid to neutral grassland, a pond, scrub and woodland/forest edge
15.30 Break
15.45 Classroom time – beginning to map habitats and writing target notes.
16.00 Day finishes


09.30 Registration
10.00 Introduction to Day 2 field survey
10.30 Introduction to the Phase I Survey: the mapping technique
11.00 Field survey of neutral grasslands/running water/marsh/woodland/hedgerow
13.30 Lunch
14.00 Classroom time – habitat mapping and writing target notes and citations (including break)
15.40 Taking your interest further and Course Review
16.00 Course finishes

All timings are approximate. This is an outline programme and may be subject to change according to the weather, requirements of the group or access restrictions to field sites on the day of the course. Our courses include some classroom sessions but field visits may be a few hours long and involve walking over uneven ground.

What's Included

  • Expert Tuition
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Hot and Cold Drinks
  • Personal and Travel Insurance

Before You Attend

What to Bring

  • Sensible clothing for the weather
  • Appropriate footwear
  • Lunch and Drinks (refreshments are provided)