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Bat Monitoring in the UK

The National Bat Monitoring Programme (NBMP) is a citizen science programme 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. We are extremely grateful to all the dedicated volunteers who have taken part in the NBMP since its inception in 1996, without which the programme could not continue.

Effective conservation requires monitoring of underlying population trends to provide a detection system that can indicate population declines; to ensure scarce conservation resources are targeted towards sustaining bat populations and the habitats on which they depend; and also to inform policy.

The NBMP collects data to deliver this information and to enable us to understand more about the drivers of change in population trends. The NBMP aims to deliver some of the key information needs for UK and country biodiversity strategies and Habitats Directive obligations.

Bats are widely distributed through the range of landscapes and habitats in the UK. A combination of their reliance on insect prey, sensitivity to prevailing weather conditions, dependence on a range of habitats and vulnerability to changed land and site management approaches, makes them valuable indicators of the ‘health’ of the environment. Since 2008 NBMP data have contributed to the suite of UK biodiversity indicators which are being used to help measure progress towards the Government's target of halting biodiversity loss.

Through continued development of new surveillance techniques, training approaches and volunteer recruitment, the NBMP has grown substantially in capacity since it was first established in 1996. It now delivers statistically robust trends for 11 of the UK’s 17 resident bat species at GB level, and we report country-level trends for 11 species in England, three species in Scotland and seven species in Wales. Currently we have insufficient data from Northern Ireland to provide trends for Northern Ireland or to calculate UK-wide trends. All-Ireland bat population are trends produced by Bat Conservation Ireland.

Continue to Monitoring approach

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0345 1300 228