NVC surveys

Plant communities

The regulators occasionally request that a detailed botanical survey is undertaken to assess the nature conservation value of an important habitat that could be affected by development. National Vegetation Classification (NVC) is the standard technique for sampling and classifying plant communities in the UK. It is a powerful tool that can be used to identify and map particular plant communities so that their importance and distribution can be understood. It is also widely used by conservation agencies to assess the quality of habitats within sites designated for their importance to wildlife as well as to monitor habitats and inform management options.

Our botanical specialists are experts at conducting National Vegetation Classification surveys across all habitats in the UK.

The first step in undertaking an NVC survey is to conduct a walkover of the site to delimit discrete stands of vegetation. Detailed botanical data on the presence and abundance of each plant species is then collected from each stand of interest. Data obtained during the survey is then tabulated and checked against the floristic tables and descriptions of plant communities published in Rodwell (1998). This enables the plant community and sub-community to be identified and characterised, as well as the representativeness of the community to be described and the nature of any distinctive features to be identified.


Raised bogs, such as this one in Malham Tarn, North Yorkshire, are of special botanical interest.

Timing Considerations: The optimal period for undertaking NVC surveys is generally between April and August, although this depends on the type of habitat being surveyed. For example, woodland is best surveyed between April and May.
About us
Babec Ecological Consultants are based in Sussex and Hertfordshire, and provide NVC surveys across West Sussex, East Sussex, Hertfordshire, Kent, Hampshire, Surrey, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridge, Essex, London and throughout England and Wales. We are happy to give free initial advice and provide an excellent service at competitive rates. Click here to get in touch.