Department of Biological and Medical Sciences

Frequently Asked Questions

  • The first version was deliberately designed for use on iPads. At the outset of the project we undertook a consultation with a large number of professional ecologists to determine which tablet format to develop for. The conclusion of this was that there was little brand preference amongst ecologists and that functionality was most important.

    Based on this we chose iPad because of the combination of functionality (higher screen resolution, consistent use in a range of conditions) and the requirement to develop for a limited series of devices. Android devices differ greatly in functionality and in 2012 an estimated 600 different Android devices had already been released. Supporting an Android version to be used across a wide range of devices is extremely complicated, therefore we chose to pilot using the iPad. We are considering an Android version, but as the Toolkit has only been available for just over a year this will depend on the uptake and interest in the toolkit on the iOS platform.

    We are very pleased to be able to announce in May 2016 that an iPhone version is now available. We made this decision following advancements in iPhone screen technology and following the improved levels of satellite cover offered by our mapping provider, Mapbox.

    There are no plans for a Windows version.

    Phase One Habitat Survey Toolkit is compatible with any Apple iPad running iOS8. This includes both iPad minis and full size iPads. You should update your iOS version before trying to install the Toolkit

    The current costs to upgrade to Pro are:


    12 month subscription - £249.99


    6 month subscription - £199.99


    3 month subscription - £119.99


    1 month subscription - £49.99


    To upgrade simply follow the instructions on your device.

    Apple govern commercial use of any Apps under their terms and conditions of use as your agreement and acceptance of the T&Cs; is with them and you are purchasing from them: and as a University we are governed by the same terms.

    "App Store Product Usage Rules


    (i) If you are an individual acting in your personal capacity, you may download and sync an App Store Product for personal, noncommercial use on any iOS Device you own or control.

    (ii) If you are a commercial enterprise or educational institution, you may download and sync an App Store Product for use by either (a) a single individual on one or more iOS Devices used by that individual that you own or control or (b) multiple individuals, on a single shared iOS Device you own or control. For example, a single employee may use an App Store Product on both the employee's iPhone and iPad, or multiple students may serially use an App Store Product on a single iPad located at a resource centre or library. For the sake of clarity, each iOS Device used serially by multiple users requires a separate license.

    (iii) You shall be able to store App Store Products from up to five different Accounts at a time on a compatible iOS Device.

    (iv) You shall be able to manually sync App Store Products from at least one iTunes-authorized device to iOS Devices that have manual sync mode, provided that the App Store Product is associated with an Account on the primary iTunes-authorized device, where the primary iTunes-authorized device is the one that was first synced with the iOS Device or the one that you subsequently designate as primary using the iTunes application."


    Basically this means you need to buy one licence of an app per user for commercial use if you have several users using software on several devices. This is standard for all software purchased from the Apple App store.

    Phase One Habitat Survey Toolkit does not currently allow you to import maps. The on-board mapping provides robust offline functionality with geospatially referenced features. Mapbox has recently updated satellite layers for the whole of the UK and coverage has been enhanced for all areas. Coverage is currently as shown at but if you identify any areas with limited coverage please let us know.
    Phase One Habitat Survey Toolkit Pro allows you to save up to 10 offline maps to your device at any one time. Phase One Habitat Survey Toolkit allows you to save one. You can delete and replace the offline maps as many times as you need to.
    Phase One Habitat Survey Toolkit Pro allows you to add unlimited features to a survey. Phase One Habitat Survey Toolkit allows you to create five features. You can delete and replace the features as many times as you need to.

    Phase One Habitat Survey Toolkit features:

    • Store one survey at a time
    • Five features per survey
    • Save one map to use offline
    • View detailed species information for over 30 priority UK species


    Phase One Habitat Survey Toolkit Pro features (in-app subscription required):

    • Store unlimited surveys
    • Unlimited features per survey
    • Save up to ten concurrent maps to use offline
    • View detailed species information for over 900 priority UK species

    Phase One Habitat Survey Toolkit allows you to export shape files for use in Arc GIS programmes.


    Shapefiles do not contain the symbology for JNCC surveys (i.e. there is no colour layer). However you can add the JNCC symbology to your map. You will need to download the three layer files containing the palettes first:

    Arc GIS Lines (Layer File)

    Arc GIS Polygons (Layer File)

    Arc GIS Target Notes (Layer File)


    In Arc

    • Click "Add data".
    • Browse to the layer files (PhaseOnePolygons.lyr) you have downloaded.
    • Click "Add" for each of them.

    When the layer appears in the side bar of Arc

    • Right click
    • Click "Properties"
    • Click the "Source" tab
    • Click Set Data Source.


    Now browse to the shapefiles you have exported from the Toolkit. Select the polygons as the data source and click apply.

    Repeat this process for the lines and target notes.


    This opens the habitats onto your basemap with the symbology shown. You can then display the characteristics of each of the habitats by selecting it in Arc then right clicking and clicking "Identify". This opens the table. Details are shown under the habitat field in this table.

    These layer files are provided for Arc 10.3. If you require layers for older versions of Arc please contact us at our support address

    Some shapefiles exported into Arc may experience "bleeding" where the colour shading for one habitat type bleeds into other habitats. This is a recurring issue with Arc but can be can be quickly fixed using the Repair geometry (Data Management) tool in Arc

    Once you have added your shapefiles with the habitats applied:

    • Geoprocessing
    • Arc Toolbox
    • Data management tools
    • Features
    • Repair Geometry


    Select the first type of feature you want to repair. This issue is usually related to polygons, but it is advisable to repair all layers if you are encountering this problem. Uncheck the Delete Features with Null Geometry box Arc will then run the tool and identify any compatibility issues and repair the problem.

    Once you have exported the shapefile layers they will be in a zipped file named using the convention "Survey Title Shapefiles". Use the "Extract all" function to create a new folder. You can then drag the three unzipped folders folders (polygons, lines and target notes) straight into QGIS and they will display as three individual layers.

    Shape files can't include style details so these need to be added afterwards. You need to download the QML file to apply the styles to your surveys in QGIS.

    Please note that you should Save these files rather than opening them.

     Once you have downloaded the file you can apply the style by right clicking on the layer, selecting style from the left hand toolbar > Load style > select the attached file > ensure that "Categorised" is selected from the dropdown at the top of the page > and that the Column shows "Habitat" in the next dropdown. Then click "Apply" and it will apply the styles. PLEASE NOTE when you apply the QML file to your target notes you need to select "Title" from the dropdown as Target Notes do not include habitat classifications