Thanks to its geological and topographical diversity, it’s long history of human influence and its seasonal and climatic variability, the UK hosts a rich flora that gives rise to its mosaic of landscapes and habitat types including some of the most biodiverse ecosystems, from streams, rivers, bogs and wetlands to meadows, hedgerows, chalk grassland, woodlands and sand dunes.
Plant and animal communities directly fulfil numerous roles in ecosystem services provisioning such as natural flood management, land stabilisation, climate regulation and as a home for pollinators as well as making places that contribute to human wellbeing.
Middlemarch Environmental routinely undertakes habitat surveys, commonly referred to as Phase 1 Habitat Surveys, as an intrinsic part of the development planning process to provide a baseline for monitoring change and feeding into ecological or environmental impact assessments (EcIAs / EIAs). Enabling consistent records of specific habitats or wider swathes of countryside to be created, based largely on the plant species present, a Phase 1 Survey may be followed by Phase 2 or even Phase 3 Surveys, to define plant communities in more detail in line with the National Vegetation Classification (NVC) system, to assess the variability within a habitat and to produce detailed information on the frequency or abundance of communities and species of both flora and fauna.
The standard Phase 1 habitat classification and methodology (published originally by the Nature Conservancy Council in 1990 and subsequently reprinted by JNCC) was widely used by ecologists throughout the UK until 2018. Today Middlemarch Environmental undertakes habitat surveys in accordance with the UK Habitat Classification User Manual Version 1.0 (UK Habitat Classification Working Group, 2018), widely referred to as ‘UKHab’. UKHab is harmonised with the previous habitat classification system and has additional features that enable it to be integrated with other classification systems and to be used, for example, to support environmental net gain/loss analysis and for recording both field and remote-sensed data digitally in Geographical Information Systems (GIS).
A thorough broad and deep knowledge of botany is critical to our ability to assess development impacts and to providing mitigation and net gain through habitat design and creation at any scale. This expertise also allows us to design and implement green and blue infrastructure in urban and transportation infrastructure settings. Middlemarch also supports and undertakes ecosystem services assessments and biodiversity action planning which rely upon skills in botany to generate accurate data and for the design of planting schemes.
Middlemarch’s team of experienced surveyors includes botanists qualified to Level 4 in Field Identification Skills under the BSBI certification scheme and able to perform Phase 1 and UKHab habitat surveys and habitat classification and assessment using the National Vegetation Classification (NVC) system.
We offer the following survey services:
- National Vegetation Classification assessment
- Invasive species surveys (including Japanese Knotweed & Himalayan Balsam) and method statements
- Fungi and lower plants including mosses, liverworts & lichen</strong
- Targeted surveys for notable plants e.g. Orchids
- Wildlife site criteria assessments