- Qualified surveyors
- Competitive pricing
- Pragmatic solutions
Smart Ecology offer a range of competitively priced botanical and habitat surveys.
Our team includes specialist botanists who can undertake a range of habitat and botanical surveys to assist with your planning application and other development or biodiversity objectives.
What we offer:
Request a Botanical or Habitat Survey Quote
Not sure exactly what you require? Our experienced ecologists will provide free, no obligation advice, just ask.
How are plants and habitats protected?
Certain plant species are legally protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017. Additionally, some plants and habitats are listed as priority species under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act 2006. Local planning authorities (LPAs) must take into consideration the impacts of a development on these priority species and habitats when determining planning applications.
What is a Phase 1 habitat survey?
This is a relatively rapid survey carried out where the aim is to map habitats present in an area. For this survey, a trained surveyor will carry out a site walkover and map habitat types following a standard methodology in accordance with the Joint Nature Conservation Committee’s (JNCC) Handbook for Phase 1 habitat survey.
A map is then produced using Geographic Information System (GIS) software showing the location of habitats. Target Notes are included on the map which provide additional information such as habitat management, botanical composition and to highlight habitats or features of interest that are too small to be mapped.
Phase 1 habitat surveys are often carried out as part of a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal, although they can also be undertaken as a stand-alone survey, for example where an initial scoping assessment is needed of habitats on a site. Additionally, Phase 1 habitat surveys produce maps which can be used to calculate the area of different habitats on a site, producing data which can be used in Biodiversity Offsetting calculations. Phase 1 surveys also provide information on the type and location of habitats of particular biodiversity value on a site, which can be used to inform the design of developments at an early stage so that impacts on these habitats can be avoided.
Phase 1 habitat surveys can be conducted at any time of year, although the optimum period is between April and September.
What is a hedgerow survey and assessment?
Hedgerows are listed as a priority habitat under the NERC Act 2006 and therefore LPAs must consider impacts on hedgerows when assessing planning applications. To do this, LPAs require detailed surveys to provide ecological information about hedgerows, such as the number of woody species and whether woodland ground flora plant species are present.
Removal of hedgerows is permitted under certain circumstances or for particular reasons, such as where planning permission has been granted or for national defence purposes. In other cases, a Hedgerow Removal Notice would need to be obtained from the LPA to allow a hedgerow to be removed. In such cases, surveys may be required to determine whether any hedgerows on a site are classified as ‘Important Hedgerows’ under the Hedgerows Regulations 1997, and are therefore protected from removal. During these surveys the ecologist records attributes such as species richness, number of trees in a hedgerow, presence of protected species and connectivity with other habitat features such as ponds and woodland. The results of the assessment are provided in a report with mapping of the hedgerows.
The optimal time for carrying out hedgerow surveys is between April and October.
What is a National Vegetation Classification (NVC) survey?
The NVC is a standardised classification system for natural and semi-natural plant communities in Great Britain. NVC surveys are carried out following a standard methodology using quadrats, providing data which is used to match plant species and abundances to existing plant community descriptions.
NVC surveys are likely to be necessary where a Preliminary Ecological Appraisal has identified semi-natural or natural habitats on a site which are of high conservation value, or where protected or notable plant species have been identified. An NVC provides additional information on the condition of the habitats to inform an impact assessment. This enables mitigation to be implemented, such as retaining the habitats on site or translocating valuable habitats. NVC surveys can also be carried out for monitoring habitats, for example to assess changes over time resulting from alterations in habitat management. NVC survey data is provided in a report, with an evaluation of the value of different habitats and GIS mapping to show the type, location and extent of plant communities on a site.
NVC surveys can be carried out between April and October.
What other habitat and botanical services do we provide?
Other work we carry out includes bespoke Phase 2 botanical surveys, aquatic plant surveys, monitoring surveys and creation of habitat management plans. We also carry out surveys for invasive plant species, such as Japanese knotweed, and provide method statements for invasive species control and removal.
If you are unsure of your requirements please contact us. Our experienced botanists will provide free, no obligation advice on the best methods to achieve your aims.