Natural Spaces

Phase1 Habitat Surveys

Last update: 2017-07-05


Phase1 is considered an archived dataset, it is not maintained so use at your own risk!

Phase 1 surveys (polygons only) have been made available to download from Natural Spaces on 05/07/2017. Caveat for data usage: this is an archived dataset and is no longer updated or maintained. The data is dated - mainly from the 1980s and 1990s, it does not comply with the INSPIRE Directive, it is not in the EUNIS classification system and does not assist SNH in reporting on its statutory commitments.

The aim of Phase 1 survey was to provide, relatively rapidly, a record of the semi-natural vegetation and wildlife habitat over large areas of countryside. The habitat classification was based broadly on vegetation, augmented by reference to topographic and substrate features, particularly where vegetation was not the dominant component of the habitat. The nature of the vegetation can provide an effective means of classifying and surveying habitats. Phase 1 survey were often followed up by a Phase 2 survey that looked at plant communities more closely,  using the NVC classification.  For access to GIS colour mapping palettes please see

Data was digitised from the field survey maps. The methodology was based on classifying each parcel of land in terms of 90 specified habitat types. The habitat was mapped at 1:10000 using standard colour codes. The use of colour codes was to allow rapid visual assessment of the extent and distribution of habitats.  Additional Information: Nature Conservancy Council 1990 "Handbook for Phase 1 habitat survey. A technique for environmental audit"

Today, SNH would expect field surveys to use the EUNIS/Annex I classification.  SNH Commissioned Report 766: Manual of terrestrial EUNIS habitats in Scotland provides more detail.


Available under the Open Government Licence 

Acknowledgment:  Contains SNH information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

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