BCT works on a number of levels to create a better world for bats. We run a range of different projects and initiatives. The breadth and depth of our work is driven by our passion for bats, and our vision of bats and people living in harmony.
BCT achieves a great deal with limited resources. This would not be possible without the dedication and enthusiasm of almost 5,000 members, and the sheer volume of conservation work carried out by local bat groups and volunteers across the UK.
Each of our projects is linked directly to our strategic objectives, which are critical to ensure we have a sustainable and diverse bat population in the UK. They are:
To determine target population levels and associated habitats
To secure and maintain the stated target bat population levels
To act as the authoritative voice for bat conservation
To win the required level of support to achieve the target number of bats
National Bat Monitoring Programme (NBMP)
Effective bat conservation requires a thorough knowledge of bat populations including population trends, species distribution and population dynamics. BCT has been running the NBMP since 1996 in an effort to achieve this. It is the longest purpose built multi-species monitoring programme for mammals in the UK and currently produces statistically robust population trends for 11 of the UK`s 17 resident bat species. In the last ten years, more than 2,200 volunteers have taken part in surveys at around 4,000 sites across the UK.
The NBMP has been supported with core funding from the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) since 2001. It is also supported by Mammals Trust UK, Environment Agency, Natural England, CCW and Forestry Commission. More information on the NBMP
Bechstein`s Bat Project Gaining a greater understanding of these rare bats
The Bechstein`s Bat Project is an NBMP project that began in September 2007. During the next 3.5 years the project aims to survey woodlands in Southern England and South Wales using a new survey technique. The project will involve local bat groups and hope to produce important information about the Bechstein`s bat`s distribution range and habitat preferences. More information on the Bechstein`s Bat Project and details of our funders
Linked to Strategic Objectives 1 and 4
Our biodiversity team actively promotes bat conservation through policy and lobbying. BCT is the national voice for bat conservation and through our advocacy work, we champion bats to key decision makers to ensure their conservation is part of national policy. This includes:
Responding to consultations and lobbying the relevant statutory authorities and other organisations in relation to areas of concern for bat conservation, for example the implementation of the Habitats Directive in the UK, and ensuring bats are taken into account with regards to windfarm developments.
We also work in close partnership with other wildlife organisations through Wildlife and Countryside Link to ensure bats and other wildlife have a loud voice at a national level.
In addition to our funders supporting specific biodiversity projects (see below), our biodiversity work is supported by Natural England and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.
Linked to Strategic Objectives 1, 2, 3 and 4
Bats and Built Environment Project
BCT`s Bats and the Built Environment project launched in January 2007 with the aim of developing good practice for mitigation in relation to bats and the built environment. The project is also aiming to identify future developments where bats could be given full consideration from the outset, and ensure that these developments become flagships and set the standard for other developments to follow, with bats acting as indicators of biodiversity. It is intended that this two-year project will help pave the way to a built environment where bats and people live in harmony.
The project is funded by Vincent Weir.
Linked to Strategic Objectives 2, 3 and 4
Bats are vulnerable to the impacts of human activity particularly because of their reliance on buildings for roosting. Building demolition, renovation, loft conversions, maintenance work, timber treatment and deliberate exclusion are frequent causes of roost damage and disturbance of bats. Maternity roosts are particularly vulnerable. BCT`s investigations officer works closely with batworkers, the police and other professionals to raise awareness about bats and to enable builders, pest controllers and other relevant professionals to adhere to legislation when they come across bats during the course of their work. The main area of work giving rise to bat-related crimes is still development and building maintenance, which accounts for more than two thirds of incidents.
BCT believes education is key to the prevention of bat-related crime because many incidents are caused by a lack of awareness or indifference to bats and roosts in buildings.
BCT operates the National Bat Helpline (0845 1300 228) as a service for members of the public, professionals and anyone needing advice on issues relating to bats. The Bat Helpline deals with more than 10,000 enquiries a year, and also organises almost 1,000 roost visits on behalf of Natural England. This vital service involves local volunteer batworkers providing advice and support for householders with bat roosts, and directly helps to conserve thousands of bats every year.
The Bat Helpline is supported by the Department of Health, Defra, and The Mercers Trust. Natural England contract fund particular aspects of the Helpline. The Helpline is also supported by BCT members, who help to keep the service running through their donations. More information on the Bat Helpline
Linked to Strategic Objectives 2, 3 and 4
BCT runs a range of bat training courses for both professionals and volunteers. The range of target audiences includes ecological consultants, arborists, the construction industry and volunteers. Around 40 courses are held each year, training almost 500 people. More information on training
Linked to Strategic Objectives 2, 3 and 4
BCT`s helps to support a network of more than 100 local bat groups across the UK. Local groups are the mainstay of bat conservation. They are made up of dedicated, enthusiastic volunteers who undertake essential practical conservation work and help to educate the public about bats. Local groups operate independently, but many work closely with BCT. BCT`s Bat Group Officer acts an overall support to the groups, and we also have Welsh and Scottish Bat Officers who support bat groups on a regional level.
BCT runs a Scottish Bat Project, which launched in 2003, and a Welsh Bat Project, which began in 2005.
Our Welsh and Scottish Bat Project Officers work across their respective countries to promote greater awareness of bats, enable more people to appreciate and enjoy bats and get involved in bat conservation, develop the network and activities of local bat groups, capacity build and share ideas between groups, recruit and train volunteers, and identify and co-ordinate priority projects to focus local bat conservation work.
The future of sustainable bat conservation lies in engaging, educating and involving people in the wonder of bats. In order to work towards our vision of bats and people living in harmony, BCT wants to involve as wide a spectrum of people as possible in bat conservation, with members and volunteers reflecting modern Britain. The Count Bat Project was set up to do this. It was developed through a successful pilot programme that started in September 2005, supported by a Heritage Lottery Fund Project Planning grant.
The Heritage Lottery Fund, together with Natural England and City Bridge Trust, has since provided funding for a 4 year project looking at engaging new audiences in bat conservation. The project is being rolled out across England – its aim is to introduce new people to bat conservation through developing links between the existing bat community, voluntary organisations and local communities. More information on the Count Bat project.
Linked to Strategic Objective 1 and 4
Pan European Project
The Pan European Project for Monitoring of Bats in Underground Sites is a European-wide initiative that aims to measure the trends in bat populations in particular toprovide population indices for European bat species on a regular basis.
Pan European data and collaboration has the potential to ensure bat conservation is effective at a local, regional, national and international level.
The Advisory Committee to EUROBATS discussed the strategy to implement the monitoring of bats in Europe and agreed that the first step of the Europe wide programme should be carried out in underground sites.
The first stage in the development of the project is a 6 month feasibility study being led by BCT, which was launched in March 2008. The feasibility study involves answering a number of questions concerning logical (scientific), organisational, and financial aspects of the project. It will propose and cost the options for the implementation of monitoring.
A Steering Group for the project has been agreed by the EUROBATS Advisory Committee.
The project is funded by Governments of the Republic of Ireland, France, the Netherlands, Estonia, and the UK (Defra). It is also being supported by Bosnia Speleological Association, Serbia, The Slovenian Wildlife Conservation Society MUSTELA, Pro Natura in Poland and Georgia Campester.
Linked to Strategic Objective 1
Education and Awareness Raising
BCT is widely recognised as the authoritative voice for bat conservation in the UK. Education and awareness-raising is a core theme running through every aspect of our work. We also actively raise awareness of bats by generating positive media coverage, producing a range of publications and resources, and holding a range of events each year. This continues to encourage thousands of people to experience the wonder of bats and get involved in bat conservation.
Our education and audience-engagement work is supported by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and John Ellerman Foundation.