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Bats as Indicators of Biodiversity

Article Date: 08/07/2008

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has recently announced that bats have been added to their list of ‘indicator species’ which are used to help measure the Government’s progress towards halting biodiversity loss. The Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) has campaigned for sometime for the inclusion of bats as an indicator species because of their reliance upon insect prey, this being a further indication of biodiversity. Greater bat numbers indicate a greater number and variety of their insect prey.

Bats don’t just need good foodstuffs, but also somewhere to roost. Bats, unlike birds, no not make nests roosting instead in crevices or hanging in open roof spaces. It can be quite easy to build new roosting opportunities into buildings, both new and refurbished. As different species require different roosting opportunities it is necessary to identify what bat species are active in an area where the development will be built. Building surveys for bats will identify what species are already using a structure. Activity surveys, often undertaken at the same time as dusk and dawn building emergence counts, can provide additional species data that can be used to design new roosting opportunities for bats. These roosts can be built into a structure to comply with Building Regulations in such a way that they will not cause nuisance to the occupants nor disrupt their use of the property.

Designing new roosting opportunities into buildings fulfils the requirements of Planning Policy Statement 9 (Biodiversity and Geological Conservation) which seeks to protect and improve biodiversity by requiring Local Planning Authorities to consider it at an early stage on the decision process. This can be seen in the inclusion in the new planning application form, App1. This form now requires the applicant to make a statement about whether the development will adversely affect protected species both on the site and on adjacent land. Early bat surveys and consideration of how a development will affect protected species will speed up the decision process.

<b>Bats as Indicators of Biodiversity</b>

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