Topic: Mapping Phase 1 habitats: Which category is best for urban/suburban?

There appears to be overlap in which Phase 1 (Phase1) type and code to use for urban or suburban ‘habitat’ types.
For example on land between buildings and roads the Grassland Categories (B1-4, B6) could be used, but so too could the category ‘J: Miscellaneous’ (J1.2/J1.3). We do not mind which one we agree to use, but the choice needs to be consistent.

In Brighton and Hove there is no Phase 1 map, only a series of different habitat maps compiled over the decades which are incompatible. Secondly, as most people’s contact with nature is now in an urban or probably mostly suburban setting it will be useful to have agreed national categories so change can be monitored. How are other groups defining their (sub)urban habitats?

·    scrappy areas on the edge of recreation grounds/parks
·    domestic gardens and land next to property which is apparently ‘unmanaged’
·    roadside verges with ruderal plants or tall herbs which is neither grassland nor scrub wider areas of road/rail verge which appears ‘unmanaged’  (apart from an occasional brushcutter visit or dangerous tree felling)

We have got a set of 'IHS codes' for land beyond the (sub)urban area which includes GN10, HSO, OT3. But these do not really capture the habitat types listed above.

*QUESTION*  Is there a national standard for Phase 1 suburban and urban habitats to refer to?
  [nb: JNCC and NE have not been able to help(!) but as a local wildlife forum we will want to follow existing national protocols; if they do actually exits ]

Our Website: BHWF.org.uk


Re: Mapping Phase 1 habitats: Which category is best for urban/suburban?

Response from JNCC

Whilst Chapter 4 in JNCC ‘Phase 1 Survey’ Handbook describes specifically how it can be used for Urban Phase 1 surveys, these are Dr Ed Mountford (UK Conservation Adviser at JNCC) recent comments:

“Firstly, the Phase 1 classification/survey technique can be problematic to apply in urban environments, as recognised in Chapter 4 of the Phase 1 Handbook, which is dedicated to Urban Phase 1 surveys.  This is no surprise because the classification was not designed for: (i) relatively detailed mapping; and (ii) artificial habitat types; both of which are commonly encountered within urban settings.

Edges of recreation grounds / greens area / parks with mixed ‘opportunist’ vegetation (visually it looks ‘scrappy’)
I’m not entirely sure what this description covers.  It sounds like ruderal vegetation, rather than established grassland/tall herb/scrub.  In which case, the most suitable codes seems to be either C3.1 or J1.3, using target notes to identify dominant/common species and give brief details.

Roadside verges with:
a. ruderals - sounds like J1.3  or C3.1
b. tall herbs - sounds like C3.1
c. low scrub - sounds like J1.4
- in all cases, target notes could be used to identify dominant/common species and give brief details.

Low maintenance ‘domestic gardens’ (+ many businesses with unkempt land within their boundary fence)
I’m not entirely sure what this description covers.  The coding really depends on what vegetation is present (grassalnd, tall herb, scrub).  One alternative could be to create a new separate code, e.g. J5.1, and use target notes to identify dominant/common species and give brief details, with a fuller definition being given in the covering report.

Unmanaged areas along Rail/Road embankments (ie: larger than just verges)
This really depends on what vegetation these areas support: grassland (B), tall herb (C), scrub (A2, J1.4), or trees/woodland (A).

Garden Ponds
These fall under G1, and most are likely to be mesotrophic (G1.2) or eutrophic (G1.1) nutrient status.  If you are uncertain as to their nutrient stats, you could just use G1 or possibly G1.1/G1.2 and add a target note to say these are ‘Garden Ponds that are probably either mesotrophic (G1.2) or eutrophic (G1.1) nutrient status’. More importantly, you might wish to separate those that are more ‘natural’ from those that are ‘highly artificial’, using target notes."

[e-mail sent: 11 September 2015]