Habitats & Botany | Phase 2 Habitat Survey

During scoping for a project or where our Phase 1 Habitat Survey identifies botanical interest at a site, a National Vegetation Classification (NVC) or Phase 2 botanical survey would be appropriate.

In semi-natural areas this normally involves a survey to NVC (National Vegetation Classification) standard because this is the British standard system. However on some sites (e.g. brownfield sites) not all vegetation can be classed to NVC types and here Phase 2 botanical survey would be used as well.

Both involve the same process.  Different vegetation units on a site are mapped and the vegetation type in each unit is described. Vegetation units may start the same as those on the Phase 1 Habitat Survey map but there are likely to be sub-divisions within them.

For full NVC survey each vegetation type is sampled. Sampling involves using quadrats or transects, within or along which plant species are recorded;  the ground cover of each plant species is also assessed using recognised scales. Scores for frequency (the number of samples within which a species occurs) and abundance (the range of cover in samples) are compiled and resultant data compared with published tables and descriptions to assign to NVC communities and where possible sub-communities. For example W8 Ash-Field maple-Dog’s mercury woodland has seven sub-communities, found on different types of ground, including W8f the Wild garlic sub-community on rich damp soils.

An experienced NVC surveyor will be able to assign to NVC communities by walkover survey with less detailed botanical recording. Some consultees prefer to see quadrat data.

Phase 2 botanical survey will often yield a more complete plant list for a vegetation type or unit, including rare or other notable species. Recording is often done using the quicker and more subjective DAFOR scale to note abundance (Dominant Abundant Frequent Occasional Rare).

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Phase 2 Botanical Survey | Case Study

Case Study 1 >>

Turnberry Golf Course, Ayrshire

A vegetation audit was carried out on the three Turnberry Golf Courses in Ayrshire by our technical director Carol Crawford.  She walked the roughs, mapped vegetation communities and made a plant list with DAFOR scores on several examples of each community. This was compared with the published NVC data to assign to NVC sub-communities where possible.

In less vegetated areas such as dumps and an old airfield, a detailed list or target note was made. This recording system also allowed for the distribution of notable species, such as orchids, to be mapped. Some notable plants, such as carline thistle, were found in the dumps! The information is being added to the management plan. Botanical walks, for visitors to the resort, are also being discussed.