• phase 1 survey
  • phase 1 survey
  • phase 1 survey

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 these surveys help with the assessment of a site’s conservation importance. The end product is a map of habitats and a table of their areas.

Although grasslands are widespread, many novice surveyors find them the hardest habitat to map and classify. Unfortunately some identification of grass species is essential. Moreover past agricultural improvement makes it is difficult to determine the appropriate category. So this guide includes a table grouping indicator species by grassland type. Natural soil type determines whether the grassland is calcareous, neutral or acid. But management determines whether the grassland is improved or semi-improved.

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. 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. 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.