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Bats and woodland

This tree has a roost of barbastelle bats (Bob Cornes)

Most UK bat species evolved to use trees as roosts, while many also forage in woodland. In addition, trees provide excellent commuting habitats. Sensitive and proactive woodland management can help protect bats as well as enhancing the habitat for bats and a host of other wildlife.

Because bats are so sensitive to light, heat and humidity, woodland managers need to consider the impact of operations in the vicinity of trees with roosts. Remember that bats and their roosts are all protected by law.

How bats use woodland

Noctule flying from a tree (Hugh Clark)

Coniferous, deciduous and mixed woodlands can all be home to bats if there are suitable places to roost or feed. Bats use woodland for different reasons, depending on bat species, the season and the type and size of woodland.

  • In small to medium sized woodlands, noctules will use trees as roosts. However, they might forage up to 20km from the woodland at night.
  • At the other extreme, Bechstein's bats will both roost and forage in a suitable woodland of 25 to 50 hectares or more in size, only rarely venturing further afield.
  • Although Leisler's bats sometimes roost in houses in summer, they move to hibernate in woodland trees in winter. Greater and lesser horseshoe bats are unlikely to use trees as roosts but they frequently enter woodland to feed.
  • Resident in woodland all year round, male pipistrelles establish temporary mating roosts in trees in late summer, where they will display to attract passing females.

Bats are also found in other structures within woodland, such as buildings, sheds and underground sites like mines and bunkers. Read more about bat habitats.


Tree Charter

We’re delighted to be one of more than 40 organisations, from across all sectors of society, calling for a Charter for Trees, Woods and People.

Tree Charter


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Bat Helpline

0345 1300 228