Survey involve an experienced ecologist assessing the plant species on site in order to identify the type of habitat that the area possesses.


There are many names used when referring to Preliminary Ecological Appraisals such as:

  • Baseline Ecological Survey
  • Ecological Site Assessment
  • Ecological Site Appraisal
  • Ecological Scoping Survey
  • Ecological Site Walkover Survey or,
  • Variations on Phase 1 or Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey or Constraints Survey.

Preliminary Ecological Appraisal is the best way to assess a site’s current ecological potential and are required as part of the planning application validation criteria.  The survey aims to document and describe all habitat types present at a site, based principally on vegetation.


The survey involves an experienced ecologist assessing the plant species on site in order to identify the type of habitat that the area possesses. This process is conducted in accordance with the guidelines set out in the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) Handbook for Phase 1 Habitat Survey (JNCC, 2010).

As well as assessing habitat types within the survey area the surveyor will also assess the features on site that hold potential for supporting any rare or protected species such as bats and great crested newts. This is done by both specific feature assessment, for example using the habitat suitability index to assess ponds for great crested newt potential, or looking at the habitat as a whole. It must take into account how the area connects with the wider environment within the landscape, such as the potential of the site to be used as a commuting route for bat species.

In addition to the onsite appraisal, a detailed desk study is carried out. This involves using a multitude of software to research the area and consultations with the relevant local biodiversity records centre which indicate any records of protected species and non-statutory designated sites within the vicinity of the site.

Following the completion of all of these components to produce a final report that will ultimately assess the site’s current value for wildlife. Recommendations will always be given on how best to protect ecologically valuable features, or provide mitigation for the loss of any habitats, ensuring that the site’s overall ecological value is retained or, ideally, enhanced.

At Wharton Tree & Ecology Consultants we will only ever recommend further surveys if it is considered truly necessary in order to avoid adverse impacts upon the ecology of the site.


Preliminary Ecological Appraisals can be carried out throughout the year with the optimal period between March and October. Preliminary Ecological Appraisals can also be done in autumn and winter to provide an assessment of the area which can be submitted alongside your planning application.

Related Case Studies


View the recommended survey seasons for a Phase 1 habitat survey
on our interactive calendar.



Our experienced team will guide you through the process from estimate to planning approval.