FWAG South East Farm Advice

Habitat and Species Surveys

Surveying farmland to assess its full environmental value and potential is not only extremely rewarding for those working and living on the land but it will become ever more important as direct funding becomes increasingly linked to the environment.

Whether for the Environmental Land Management scheme (ELMS) or for privately funded options, accurate surveys of your farm will help guide you towards the best choices for a successful conservation plan. They will also help monitor the success of different management techniques, provide you with facts to demonstrate compliance and a high standard of results, and also give you confidence that land dedicated to the environment is being productive and effective.

Whole Farm Survey

FWAG SE are able to deliver Phase 1 habitat surveys which identify existing habitats and map them using a nationally recognised code. This would take in the whole farm and include an assessment of all the different habitats and their condition including differentiate between species rich and younger hedgerows, ancient and more recent woodland, floristically rich or semi-improved grassland, and so on.

This could form the basis of a whole farm conservation plan including further information and management advice. This would help guide management decisions and highlight the best locations for future environmental projects.

An Extended Phase 1 survey is a more detailed approach and would involve identify species composition, condition and current and ideal management and also more specialist surveys identifying and mapping specific species or habitat.

To support land use change or Mid -tier and Higher Tier applications, we can also undertake Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) for grasslands and BETA surveys to support species-rich and wetland grassland options.


Habitat Plans and Species Surveys


Woodland management is vital to benefit the wide range of wildlife that has adapted to woodlands managed by man for thousands of years. However taking chainsaws and harvesters into woodlands is not a guarantee that wildlife will benefit to its full potential. Taking time to assess the range of ground flora and woody species, highlight the presence of important earthworks and locate important trees and coppice stools can be vital to achieving excellent results for wildlife.

A FWAG survey can therefore be very valuable in guiding the preparation of your management plan.


The UK is known globally for its rich and varied patterns of hedgerows, not least as part of our cultural and historical heritage. The most widespread semi-natural habitat in the UK, the 2007 Hedgerow survey estimated 407,000 kms of ‘managed’ with a further 145,000kms of linear features such as lines of trees.

Hedgerows are very important for wildlife in their own right, and those that consist predominantly of native trees and shrubs are recognised as a priority habitat for conservation action within England’s Biodiversity 2020 targets. As a mixture of woodland, scrub and grassland, hedgerows contain a wealth of different plant and animal species, and across large swathes of the countryside are an essential habitat and refuge for the majority of our farmland wildlife, with particular importance in areas of intensive farming.

No less than 21 priority BAP bird species are associated with hedgerows, and for 13 of these, hedgerows are a primary habitat. Similarly, as many as 16 out of the 19 birds used by Government to assess the state of farmland wildlife are associated with hedgerows, with 10 using them as a primary habitat. Other rare or threatened species supported by hedgerows are: plymouth pear, brown hairstreak butterfly and dormouse.

FWAG have been providing management advice for hedgerows for over 40 years, understanding the practicalities unique to each holding, it’s enterprises, topography and geology.

Species-rich Plots, Buffer Strips and Grassland

Many farms have created buffer strips and field corner plots and depending on soil type and management a high proportion of these features are becoming diverse and even truly species rich. As we move towards a future where the value of natural capital is going to be rewarded it is vital these areas are surveyed before farm changes are considered and this may highlight the eligibility of existing features for higher paying options.

Uncommon Arable Plants

A wide range of arable plants, once common amongst cultivated land, are now among some of the rarest plants in the country such as cornflower and pheasant eye. However on all soils, and particularly on lighter limestones and sandstones, a rich seedbank can remain in the soil or where low input arable management continues. Often these species are not large or striking and can exist un-noticed within field margins, field corners or amongst wild bird seed mixtures. It is vital that land managers provide measures to benefit this vital group of plants and a survey will highlight whether uncommon species or plants indicative of a rich seedbank are present.


FWAG South East LLP
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