The majority of plan formats begin with a description of the area covered by the management plan. They then go on to describe its features and the relationship between them to identify the importance of the site in a local, regional, national and international context. This site description typically contains the following elements:
- Location: typically, a map and written details
- Land ownership: a map and additional information about owners, neighbours and other users with rights on the site
- Designation status: a map and often a table indicating any relevant designations of the site
- Physical features: geology, soils, climate
- Biological features: a description of the important habitats and species
- Socio-economic features: a description of the land use history, current use and ecosystem services.
- Research features: a section to describe where the information gaps are and research initiatives on the site.