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20 years of the National Bat Monitoring Programme

29 April 2016

20 years of NBMP

This year the Bat Conservation Trust is celebrating 20 years of its National Bat Monitoring Programme (NBMP), the longest-running multi-species survey for mammals in the UK.

Various pieces of evidence suggest that bat populations crashed dramatically in the 20th century, but the information available is largely circumstantial so can't tell us by how much and over what time period. For this reason, in 1996 BCT established the National Bat Monitoring Programme (NBMP) with the aim of providing effective monitoring of resident species of bats in the UK. This was possible thanks to the UK’s growing network of bat volunteers and the availability of more affordable bat detectors.

Since then 3,973 volunteers have carried out 65,610 surveys at 7,758 sites! Thanks to the amazing contribution of this network of citizen scientists we are able to produce population trends for 11 of the UK’s 17 breeding bat species. The latest species population trends are due to be published in the NBMP Annual Report on 5th May.

NBMP data have also been used in a number of research projects leading to some important findings such as new insights into different species’ habitat requirements and the effects of urbanisation on bats.

Anybody can take part in the NBMP, regardless of their level of skill and experience. The simplest survey is the Sunset/Sunrise Survey which requires no previous experience or special equipment. It’s a great way to spot bats in your local area and even find out where they are roosting. We have recently developed a new online recording page for this survey, making it even easier to take part.

If you have bats roosting in your property then you can take part in the Roost Count which involves counting bats out of the roost as they emerge at dusk. Volunteers with experience of identifying bats on a bat detector can take part in the Field Survey and Waterway Survey.

NBMP surveys are a great way to connect with nature in your local area and help collect important information on how the UK’s bats are faring. For more information go to www.bats.org.uk/pages/nbmp.html.

The NBMP is run by the Bat Conservation Trust, in partnership with the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, and supported and steered by Natural England, Natural Resources Wales, Northern Ireland Environment Agency, and Scottish Natural Heritage. 

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