These surveys are used to map habitats into fairly broad classifications set by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC). They are often required for planning applications, and can usually be carried out in conjuction with protected species surveys, when they are referred to as 'Extended Phase 1 Habitat Surveys'.
If a phase 1 survey shows that rare or complex habitats are present, or if a site is within a protected site such as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), an NVC may be required. This classifies broad JNCC habitats into distinct plant communities for a detailed view of the rarity of habitats on a local or national scale.
Designated protected sites such as Ramsar sites, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) recieve their designation due to the presence of particular habitats, plant species or animal species. Site Condition Monitoring (SCM) assesses the state of these notified features of interest using methods developed by the JNCC.
Habitat impact analysis can be carried out as a one-off survey to examine the current state of a site, or to monitor a site over a number of years to determine whether habitat restoration works are succeeding, or if a habitat is being impacted negatively (for example through extensive grazing or over-burning). Taylor Wildlife will work with land managers to plan the effective and practical restoration and regeneration of habitats.
NVCs must be carried out by an experienced botanist, usually a member of the Botanical Society of the British Isles (the BSBI), capable of accurately identifying all flowering and non-flowering plants, mosses, liverworts, lichens, grasses and sedges. Phase 2 Surveys may also require examining certain ecological features more in more detail, which may include hedgerow surveys, aquatic macrophyte surveys, aquatic macrophyte surveys, and invasive plant surveys.
Bryophytes and lichens seen on veteran Hawthorn whilst assessing habitat condition of woodland in western Scotland
Site Condition Monitoring for Nephroma arcticum
Re-survey of Direct Monitoring plot for Campylopus subporodictyon in the northwest Highlands
Salix myrsinites found during montane willow survey at Schiehallion
There is an increasing desire to restore degraded habitats to a healthy ecological state, but due to practical and financial contraints it is imperative to prioritise which areas to restore, and how to restore them. A number of different options are available when restoring any habitat. The current state of the ecological system or habitat and the environmental and man-made pressures of each particular site must be considered to plan an effective and practical restoration project.