Our Autumn Phase 1 habitat survey course took place on Thursday 1st October. It was led by Mark Duffell, who specialises in botanical surveying and training. Mark regularly undertakes phase 1 habitat surveys, along with National Vegetation classifications, and delivers courses for other organisations such as the Field Studies Council and Environment Wales. The course was aimed at recent graduates, those embarking on fledging careers in the sector, and perhaps more experienced professionals who were looking to refresh their knowledge.
The course began with an introduction to the history of phase 1 surveys, designed as a rapid survey technique to classify wide ranges of vegetation types and wildlife habitats. The phase 1 approach uses vegetation type as its basis and is presented in a format which can be easily and quickly interpreted by those trained in the mapping technique.
Once briefed on the clients who might require a phase 1 survey and the minutiae of differences between grassland classifications, the course headed out into the field!
We set off to our field site, Hamadryad Park, not far from Acer HQ. Armed with a phase 1 map of the survey site, and most importantly a packed lunch, we proceeded to map the different habitat types present in the Park. There proved to be a surprising variety of grasslands present and even some foreign species! The imposters may look pretty but could be damaging to our native flora so would be ‘target noted’ in a real phase 1 habitat survey.
The last feature of the timetable saw Acer’s own Emma Downie take to the stage. She gave us the lowdown on what is called the extended phase 1 habitat survey. An upgrade of the basic phase 1, in that it pays more attention to any invasive or protected species that may be present in the survey area. An extended survey looks for evidence of habitation, or alternatively, habitat suitability, of species such as bats, badgers, great-crested newts, or dormice which are protected under UK wildlife laws. The course proved a great success, with all the attendees generating a mock-up of a Phase 1 habitat survey map, and lots of take-home information and hand
-outs available. Thanks to all those who attended, and we hope to see some of you again soon.
For any course attendees, or those who might be interested, a free download of the JNCC Handbook for Phase 1 habitat survey, on which the course was based, is available here.