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Phase 1 habitat survey is a standardised system of recording semi-natural vegetation and other habitats. As a system, it is widely established within the ecological industry and often provides the baseline for any potential development or change in management for a site, as well as allowing finite conservation/development resources to be allocated sustainably.

This intermediate course will focus on the botanical knowledge and field skills required to map habitats. Over the weekend you will have the opportunity to survey and map a variety of habitats in and around Epping Forest, focusing on the botanical detail to provide an understanding of the whole at a landscape scale. Several habitats will be studied over the weekend allowing you to develop and progress both your survey and plant identification skills.

Your course takes place situated in the heart of Epping Forest, an area of around 2,400 hectares of wood-pasture, stretching from Manor Park in East London to just north of Epping in Essex

Please note – there are no accommodation, lunch and or evening meal facilities at FSC Epping Forest. This course requires all participants to have their own transport, no minibus will be provided – location details can be found in “Before you attend”.

The course is for anyone interested in beginning to conduct Phase I surveys with a focus on plant ID for habitat categorisation and will be best placed for those looking for continued professional development.

Who Should Attend?

Natural history enthusiasts, students, rangers, ecologists, environmental professionals.

Knowledge Level

Intermediate. Level descriptors can be found on the following webpage: Framework and Course Level Descriptors

Prior Knowledge

General botanical knowledge and terminology would be beneficial for this course, though no specific experience is needed. Just a willingness to explore and learn.

What will be covered during this course?

    • Field visits to a range of habitats including woodland/acid & neutral grassland/lowland heath/open water & hedgerow
    • Classifying habitats within the Phase 1 system
    • Mapping habitats and drawing conclusions
    • Botanical identification

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

    • Describe how to carry out a Phase 1 Habitat survey of a variety of habitats
    • Analyse the findings of a Phase 1 Habitat survey and report on the findings, distinguishing those species/habitats of conservation value and justifying mapping/habitat identification decisions
    • Confidently use identify a range of botanical species
    • Share this knowledge with friends, family, and fellow volunteers

The course gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in a new subject and acquire novel skills. Our fantastic tutor will combine the use of classroom-led learning and outside learning opportunities to give individuals the skills and confidence to learn more about habitat surveying.

    • See the ‘Example Timetable’ and ‘What’s Included’ sections below for more information about this course.
    • Upon booking, you will need to provide individual details of all attendees
    • Please email [email protected] if you have any questions

Group Bookings Made Easy

If you have a group of 10 or more individuals wanting to complete one of our courses, our team are available to discuss your options – from discounts to private team courses.

    • Discounted rates
    • Privately run courses for your group
    • Bespoke courses developed specifically for your needs

Email [email protected] to discuss your options!

If we are unable reach viable numbers for this course, we will inform you of the course cancellation 14 days prior to the course run. We would recommend when purchasing accommodation and/or travel you should take out your own insurance.

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.

Book with Confidence

We understand the difficulties of making plans in the current situation when guidelines continue to change, and insurance conditions are being tightened. In response, we will continue to offer additional flexibility. Find out more here

Example Timetable

Example Timetable

This timetable is subject to change but should give a clear outline of what to expect

    • Please arrive in time for the course to start promptly at 9:30am
    • The course will end at 4:30pm

Day 1

9:15am Arrive at Epping Forest Centre for registration, H&S lecture
9:30am Collect equipment
9:45am Field visit for data collection – meet at Hill Wood Car Park
12:00pm Lunch – Not provided
1:00pm Continued field time – meet at Roding Valley Meadows Nature Reserve
3:30pm Return to classroom - start mapping and drawing conclusions
4:30pm End of Day 1

Please note accommodation, refreshments and an evening meal is not included

Day 2

9:30am Arrive at Epping Forest Centre - introduction to day
10:00am Field visit for data collection
12:30pm Lunch – Not provided
1:30pm Classroom session to map findings and draw conclusions
3:00pm Break - refreshments not provided
3:30pm Summary and final questions
4:30pm End of Day 2

Both days will involve visits to a variety of habitats with most of the day being spent outdoors.

What's Included

What’s included?

The course has been carefully created by expert tutors and educators to help you continue to build and develop your knowledge and apply it within the field surrounded by like-minded individuals.

  • Classroom learning covering the theory of the subject
  • Field excursions to apply new knowledge
  • Expert tuition for which the FSC is renowned
  • Clear objectives and progression

You can rest assured that the absolute best content from an expert in environmental education will be provided. In choosing an FSC course, you will be joining thousands of people who learn with us each year.

PLEASE NOTE the course fee is for tuition only. Transport is not included in this fee - you will be required to travel to several sites during this course.

Before You Attend

Arriving for your course:


Meet at Epping Forest Centre at 9.15am, for a 9.30 prompt start. Collect kit then travel to the first site.

First site

9.45am - meet at Hill Wood Car Park (Fairmead Rd, Waltham Abbey, Loughton IG10 4HR) – parking charges apply, card payments only.

Second site 

13:00 – 16:30 - Parking available on Marlescroft Way, adjacent to the Roding Valley Meadows Nature Reserve (IG10 3LZ)


Sunday morning meet at Epping Forest Centre at 9.30am

What to Bring

  • Notebook and pencil
  • Lunch and refreshments
  • Sensible footwear and clothing for being outdoors
  • Small bag to carry personal items
  • We will provide specialist equipment, but if you have your own you are welcome to bring it.

Useful Guides

  • 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.

There will be a member of staff with first aid training and access to a first aid kit on site. If you have special medical or access requirements, please let us know as soon as possible so we can plan the course.

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