• Phase 1 habitat

Phase 1 survey guide: Grassland and marsh

This guide will help you carry out a Phase 1 habitat survey in grassland and marsh habitats. There are 44 indicator species, following the guidelines set out in the JNCC Handbook.

Phase 1 habitat survey is a standardised system of recording semi-natural vegetation and other habitats. It provides an audit of semi-natural vegetation over large areas of countryside. Above all Phase 1 surveys help with the assessment of a site’s conservation importance. The end product of any Phase 1 survey is a map of habitats and a table of their areas. Also generally included are target notes highlighting features of particular conservation value.

The Phase 1 habitat classification is based on 155 specific habitat codes. They define everything from broadleaved woodland, grassland and mires to amenity grassland, golf courses, quarries and built up areas. Accordingly each habitat has a description of its main features (including a list of diagnostic species), an alphanumeric and lettered code and a unique map colour.

Originally designed for rapid survey of extensive areas, the recommended scale of survey is 1:10 000. At this scale the JNCC handbook indicates a survey rate of between 1 and 6.5 square kilometres a day. The use of the system for smaller scale surveys (e.g. for farm stewardship or planning applications) often requires mapping at a much larger scale, which will take longer. County Wildlife Trusts and councils use Phase 1 surveys to obtain an audit of habitats of conservation interest in a region. Moreover Phase 1 surveys have recently become the standard minimum requirement of planning applications.