Essex Wildlife Trust Survey Toolkit

Interested in collecting species records or taking part in a survey? Our Survey Toolkit contains all the information you need to get started. More identification guides are also available via the OPAL (Open Air laboratories) project.

Staying Safe in the Field

Survey work is usually a relatively low risk occupation, but potential hazards should be taken into account to minimise the risk of injury when working outdoors. Before you start, read our guide to Staying safe in the field.

Note: these are guidelines only, Essex Wildlife Trust is not responsible for any accidents that may occur while collecting records. Regular Trust volunteers should consult the full risk assessment for the activity that they are doing, and ask for a copy of our Codes of Good Practice for more details.

Non Native Species

Giant Hogweed - sap can cause severe blistering to skin

There are thousands of non-native species in the UK, both those that are deliberately introduced and accidental colonisers. Of these a small proportion are invasive, and cause damage to native ecosystems. These species cause environmental harm and some, such as Giant Hogweed, can be harmful to human health. It is therefore important to be aware of these species and help reduce their spread wherever possible.

Getting Started - General species recording forms and guidance

Essex Wildlife Trust Guide to species recording

The guidelines below give a general introduction to biological recording, and advice on how to record species sightings in a consistent format.

How to read grid references

Reading Ordnance Survey grid references can be confusing, and a small error can lead to biological records being transplanted kilometres away from where they were recorded. Our interactive clickable maps automatically enter the correct grid reference for you when you click on the correct location, but if you want to check that your record is where you expect it to be this pictoral guide shows you how a grid reference is constructed.

How to submit online sightings

Once you have collected your records, please share them! Species records can be submitted to Essex Wildlife Trust using our online recording forms, this guide shows you how to get started.

Single Site Recording Form

A template recording form for recording multiple species at a single site.

Species Recording

Template forms for recording species sightings, downloadable as pdf or Excel files.

Wildlife and the Law

Floating pennywort is now banned from sale in the UK. Photo: Darren Tansley

When recording wildlife it is important to make sure that your activities do not harm or disrupt the species that you find. There are many different pieces of legislation protecting species and habitats in the UK, from European legislation protecting species at a larger scale to laws protecting locally important species.

Survey by habitat or species

Click on the links below for more survey forms and guidance:

Habitat surveys:

Species Surveys: