Habitat Classification Schemes

Natural England Biodiversity Metric 3.0 Habitat Classification

Biodiversity Metric 3.0 is the latest version at this date (August 2021) of a biodiversity accounting tool developed by Natural England that can be used for the purposes of calculating biodiversity net gain. It can be used or specified by any development project, consenting body or landowner that needs to calculate biodiversity losses and gains for terrestrial and/or intertidal habitats. It will be this metric that underpins the Environment Bill’s provisions for mandatory biodiversity net gain in England, subject to any necessary adjustments for application to major infrastructure projects.

The Metric uses a classification of 25 types of habitat, as follows. You can find further details on the classification in the downloadable documents on that site, and specifically in the Technical Supplement.

1      Coastal

2      Coastal lagoons

3      Coastal saltmarsh

4      Ditch

5      Grassland – Low Distinctiveness

6      Grassland – Medium, High & Very High Distinctiveness

7      Heathland

8      Hedgerow

9      Intertidal biogenic reefs

10     Intertidal hard structures

11     Intertidal seagrass

12     Intertidal sediment

13     Lake

14     Limestone Pavement

15     Line of Trees

16     Orchard

17     Pond

18     Rocky shore

19     Scrub

20     Sparsely Vegetated Land

21     Urban

22     Urban trees

23     Wetland

24     Woodland

25     Wood-pasture & Parkland

UK Habitat Classification

UK Habitat Classification (UKHab) is a “new, free-to-use, unified and comprehensive approach to classifying habitats, designed to provide a simple and robust approach to survey and monitoring for the 21st century”. It is available for free download on subscription from the developers’ website. It is a detailed and flexible hierarchical scheme covering 9 major groupings,  each with up to 10 sub-groupings, plus another 46 descriptive groupings (e.g. Scattered scrub, Rushes dominant, Ancient woodland site, etc).

The 9 major groupings are labelled:


Woodland and forest

Heathland and scrub




Sparsely vegetated land

Rivers and lakes

Marine inlets and transitional waters

Britain's Habitats: A field guide to the wildlife habitats of Great Britain and Ireland (2nd edition); by Sophie Lake, Durwyn Liley, Robert Still and Andy Swash (WILDGuides, 2020).

As noted there are several different systems used to record and classify habitats in Britain and Ireland, which have been devised for different purposes and which therefore can be confusing as they do not always neatly correspond with each other. The habitat classification used in this excellent field guide is largely similar to that used in the UK Priority Habitats scheme. To help reduce confusion, the book includes tables showing the relationships between the book’s scheme and the most commonly used classification schemes, including the UKHab scheme described above. 

Click the button to to go to our page on habitat types in the High Peak, which uses a list of habitat types as below, developed from and consistent with these schemes. 

Heathlands and moorlands
Rocky habitats
Linear features: hedgerows, ditches and walls
Other habitats