This course provides an introduction to, and practical field experience in, using Phase 1 Habitat Surveys, the standard method of assessing and recording wildlife habitats and sites.

Anyone needing to carry out ecological surveys in relation to planning and development, or site conservation and management, will find this course covers the essential techniques. Working with fellow participants you will learn how to survey a site, identifying the different habitats present and then producing a map and description of the site. Further days will be spent in a variety of habitats to see how to classify them.


This is one of a series of courses (Units) run jointly with Manchester Metropolitan University contributing to the MSc Biological Recording and Ecological Monitoring and the Postgraduate Certificate in Biological Recording. To gain university credits you must be registered for the programme in advance of this course. For further details please contact:

Department of Natural Sciences, Manchester Metropolitan University, (Shrewsbury Office). E-mail: [email protected]

The Unit will be assessed through, for example, identification tests, survey reports, field journals, production of keys, essays or other forms of assessment.

If you are aged 18-25, you are eligible for a £50 discount thanks to the Generation Green project, click here to find out more.

Tutor: Alanna Cooper

Alanna Cooper is a botanist and is principal ecologist at a local environmental and engineering consultancy. She has experience of botanical survey work and habitat management in both Canada and the UK for a diverse variety of habitats. She is actively involved in the Wildflower Society and BSBI and is convenor for the CIEEM East of England committee.

Please note, the fee is for tuition, packed lunch and refreshments only.

If you would like to book accommodation and an evening meal at FSC Flatford Mill, please email [email protected]

With the generous support of the Suffolk Biodiversity and Information Service, along with the Suffolk Naturalists Society, we are able to provide bursary funding for course attendees on this course who meet the criteria. For more information please go to Bursaries for Natural History Courses.

Example Timetable

Please arrive at the Centre between 15:00pm and 17:00pm on the first day of your course in good time for a welcome introduction and evening meal usually 18.30pm, after which the course commences with a short evening session.

Friday evening:
Introduction to Phase 1 Survey methodology.

Field survey: Planning a Phase 1 Survey and mapping techniques. Undertake a Phase 1 habitat survey of a local site (grassland and woodland).
Evening Classroom: Production of the days survey maps along with target notes and dominant species codes.

Undertake a Phase 1 habitat survey of a local site (moorland and associated habitats).
Evening classroom: Learn about freely available online mapping resources. Discuss how Ellenberg values can be used to help distinguish closely related habitats. Discuss problems with the Phase 1 methodology and assess ways to control for them. Look at developing identification skills for assisting with Phase 1 surveys.

Visit another site to undertake a Phase 1 Survey working in small groups. For MMU credit students the data from this survey will form part of their assessment. For non-credit students you can gain further experience of undertaking Phase 1 surveys with help from the tutor.

Accrediting Agency

Manchester Metropolitan University

What's Included

  • Expert Tuition
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Hot and Cold Drinks
  • Lunch

Bursaries and Subsidies

If you are aged 18-25, you are eligible for a £50 discount thanks to the Generation Green project, click here to find out more.

Before You Attend

What to Bring

  • A clipboard (weather writer preferably), notebook, pencil and pens.
  • Hand lens (x10 and/or x20).
  • Pen drive (USB Flash drive) for taking away electronic resources.
  • Field work clothes - we may get wet as fieldwork will continue in the rain!
  • Sun hat and sun block, warm hat and gloves – the weather can be very variable in the hills.
  • Waterproof jacket and waterproof trousers (can be borrowed from the Centre).
  • Outdoor footwear (walking boots and wellies can be borrowed from the Centre).
  • Water bottle and lunch box (and thermos flask if required).
  • Day rucksack.
  • A torch.
  • We will provide specialist equipment, but if you have your own you are welcome to bring it.

Useful Books

  • Handbook for Phase 1 survey. 2007. JNCC. Available freely on the JNCC website.
  • The Vegetative Key to the British Flora. 2010. Poland, J. & Clement, E.J.
  • The Wildflower Key. 2006. Rose, F. & O’Reilly, C.
  • The New Flora of the British Isles. 1997 or 2010. Stace, C.A.Field flora of the British Isles. 2005. Stace, CUP
  • FSC Foldout chart: Plant identification for Phase I habitat survey, grassland and marsh. 2016. Wallace and Duffell.
  • FSC Foldout chart: Plant identification for Phase I habitat survey, Heaths and Mires. 2017. Wallace and Duffell.