Phase 1 Habitat Survey
The aim of the survey is to map the broad habitat types; it is a relatively quick assessment technique and acts as the primary means of evaluation upon which further ecological surveys may be based. The entire survey area is visited by a trained surveyor who maps vegetation details on to an Ordnance Survey map. Dominant and indicator vegetation is noted. JNCC guidelines are followed to classify and map the Phase 1 habitat types, using the appropriate standard colour codes. A map of the site, showing the locations of the different habitats, is then prepared for reporting purposes. Target notes describing interesting features, important species and any other key information are also made and included within mapping and reporting. Although Phase 1 habitat surveys can be carried out any time of year, the optimal time is between May and October (during the main flowering season), in order to gain a more comprehensive species list for the habitats on site.
Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA)
The Preliminary Ecological Appraisal (PEA), also known as an extended Phase 1 habitat survey, is an extension of the Phase 1 habitat survey and generally the first survey that is carried out on a site. This assessment technique determines the ecological value of the site through habitat mapping and identifies any potential ecological constraints. The survey involves mapping the broad habitat types in line with the Phase 1 habitat survey methodology, assessing the potential for protected or notable species and identifying invasive and non-native plants. The PEA also identifies notable habitats (e.g. Annex I habitats, potential Ground Water Dependent Terrestrial Ecosystems) and considers any potential impact pathways on designated sites, using information gained through the completion of a comprehensive desk study. Having carried out the PEA the need for additional species-specific or NVC surveys will be identified. Like the Phase 1 habitat survey, PEA surveys can be carried out any time of year, but the optimal time is between May and October.
National Vegetation Classification (NVC)
Echoes Ecology Ltd have a number of experienced ecologists with a wide range of experience in conducting National Vegetation Classification (NVC) surveys. Whereby the PEA identifies botanical interests within natural and semi-natural habitats (e.g. Annex I habitats, potential Ground Water Dependent Terrestrial Ecosystems), during an NVC survey a comprehensive classification of the habitats is undertaken. The NVC is regarded within the UK as the core standard for surveying habitats in detail. It breaks down the habitats identified during the PEA into more detailed constituent parts; habitats are assigned to a specific NVC community and, where possible, a sub-community. The NVC survey creates a detailed inventory of notable or protected habitats, which can provide baseline data for future monitoring or Habitat Management Plans, and allows the groundwater dependency of the habitats to be determined. Although NVC habitat descriptions differ from Phase 1 habitats, UKBAP and Annex I habitat classifications, they can be cross-referred. As a comprehensive species list is required in order to identify the NVC community, NVC surveys are usually only carried out during the main flowering season, between May and October.