Getting Started

Before starting any survey work there are a few basic rules to follow.

  • Make sure that you have permission from the landowner to carry out a survey, let them know what you intend to do, where and when. You may need to re-assure them that you are not planning to do any excavation type work or harm trees and other vegetation. They will also be able to tell you whether there is any management operation (e.g thinning trees) being carried out which may affect your survey.
  • Carry out a risk assessment for undertaking the survey. If you are part of a community group and your group has insurance check what guidelines apply. If your group does not have insurance or you do not belong to a woodland group please be aware that you are carrying out all survey work AT YOUR OWN RISK.
  • Try not to work alone, it is easier to carry out survey work in small groups. Make sure you are properly prepared, carry a first aid kit, a drink and food, and any personal medication, check mobile phone reception and leave details of your route/location and expected return time with a friend or family member. It is recommended that at least one of your group has up-to-date first aid training.
  • Do not carry out surveys during adverse weather conditions particularly storms, high winds and heavy snow fall. Uneven ground can pose a problem with trip hazards such as fallen branches, ditches and exposed roots. Wear sturdy footwear and suitable clothing.

Please make sure that you are properly prepared for your visit. It is your responsibility to take care of your own safety and that you follow the up-to-date health and safety guidelines for your group.

Basic Field Equipment

  • Maps: carry out all your field surveys with maps at a scale of 1:2,500 (1mm on your plan = 2.5m on the ground). This scale will correspond to the largest scale maps produced by the Ordnance Survey.
  • Recording forms / paper and pencil: Waterproof notebooks or clipboards can be bought in many outdoor shops and pencils are more effective in damp conditions than pens. Make sure you also take a pencil sharpener and eraser.
  • Ruler for measuring distances on the map (preferably with mapping scales including 1:2,500). A set-square and protractor may also be useful for plotting points on a map.
  • Tape Measures: at least two but preferably three: 30m or 50m; Sticks; Bamboo Canes or Road Pins and Hazard Tape: to mark baselines for drawings and features to return to.
  • Hand-held GPS: not essential but useful especially now the up-to-date ones work better under woodland canopies. Compass and 360-degree protractor (if no GPS). Digital Camera.
  • Identification Guides: for tree, wildlife and vegetation surveys.

The first stage is a Level 1: Walk Over Survey.