There is no way round it – our involvement as ecologists is essential if we are to guarantee the future of many species. It is tempting to focus efforts on the immediate threats of development, as they demand our attention, but long-term survival is no less important.
If, like us, you are monitoring bat roosts over time, you will undoubtedly come up against changes in roost suitability. What happened when repairs are needed years down the line, when developments are complete, but bats still need to be conserved?
Our latest challenge is happening right now with one of our bat compensation buildings in Snowdonia, which was damaged in 2018 due to a fallen tree. For several reasons (most recently Covid-19), repairs had been delayed, so with mixed feelings we headed off early one morning in September to see first-hand what was going on.
Were the bats still there?
Yes! We were pleased and relieved to count over 40 lesser horseshoes bats, including juveniles, as well as one brown long eared bat tucked into a typical position at the side of the ridge beam.
This count is less than previous years, but despite the damage bat numbers and usage are very positive and the evidence shows that lesser horseshoe bats have successfully given birth once again in 2020.
How bad is the damage?
Well… there are substantial holes in the roof coverings and although localised, typically the worst damage is right above the most favoured roosting location for the lesser horseshoes. Thankfully, the building was designed with internal baffles, creating sheltered spaces within the building interior. On this occasion the bats were able to move to alternative roost places but remain within the building.
The initial damage was too great for us to repair in full, although we carried out a series of emergency repairs. It was very pleasing to see that our previous repairs were holding up well – visqueen is definitely the ecologist’s friend!
What happens next?
It looks like the necessary repair works are not eligible for grants. Fortunately, throughout our regular monitoring visits we have maintained a good relationship with the landowner. We are now working together to come up with an affordable solution.
However, it does raise the question, how many bat compensation buildings no longer function, as a result of damage and/or due to lack of aftercare and monitoring?
Will a licence be required?
It’s a bat roost and bats now occupy the building all year round so some bats will be disturbed as a result of the work, so yes, a licence will be required. After liaising with SNPA and NRW we will be applying for a conservation licence to carry out the works. A process which I am delighted to say will be made more efficient, more robust and reliable due to the data we have collected as part of our monitoring visits.
If you are interested in developing your bat mitigation skills and knowledge, or you would like to visit one of our bat compensation buildings, why not join us for a mentoring day, bat camps or a virtual training session?
In fact, if you would like our advice and support for any aspect of your work, including training for bat surveys and assessments, please get in touch.
If you are involved in a development project, we can provide expert guidance and undertake a wide range of bat surveys and reporting.
If you are an ecologist, we offer 1-1 and small group mentoring, as well as formal training, both face to face and online.