Chapter 11 Ecological studies and surveys

Vegetation surveys


Vegetation surveys

Plant communities

When the desk study or Phase 1 habitat survey indicates that an important vegetation community is present on the development site, it may be recommended that this is assessed in further detail. The National Vegetation Classification (NVC) survey technique is the standard method for this type of assessment in Britain but not Ireland.

It allows plant communities to be classified in accordance with published accounts which have been used in the designation of SSSIs and SACs. A direct comparison can be made using this technique with the vegetation communities found on the development site and those considered to be of national or European importance. NVC surveys should be undertaken between April and September.


Hedgerows can be important habitats in otherwise intensively farmed landscapes. However, some hedgerows, particularly older hedgerows, may be more valuable than others.

Typically, an assessment of the species richness of the hedgerow is undertaken by counting the number of woody species within a 30m length. Hedgerow surveys should be undertaken between April and October, although surveys in April and May are ideal because any woodland ground flora species will be easily recorded.