'Landscapes for Lessers' Project
Landscapes for Lessers Tirlun i'r rhai lleiaf
The UK has an internationally important population of the lesser horseshoe bat Rhinolophus hipposideros. The species has suffered severe declines across Europe and the English and Welsh populations now comprise strongholds, making it important to prioritise conservation efforts in these areas.
BCT is working with the Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to deliver the Landscape for Lessers project. The Landscape for Lessers project has the following objectives:
- Assess the current resource and target actions to where they will be most effective. This will include both strengthening the network of protected sites and also identifying populations at risk of isolation
- Increase the number of available roost sites and improve the condition of existing roost sites
- Improve habitat quality and increase connectivity to allow colonies to grow and disperse
To achieve these objectives the Landscape for Lesser's project has been split into three phases:
- Phase 1 - a pilot study in Pembrokeshire completed by Annie Poole under contract to CCW.
- Phase 2 - a planning exercise to determine how the active conservation work could be rolled out throughout Wales. This phase was completed in February 2009. A Fundraising Strategy to take forward Phase 3 was also developed. Phase 2 report
- Phase 3 - Wales-wide implementation project is subject to funding and the intention was to employ of a project team. Funding applications were submitted to LIFE+ (EU) and HLF. Unfortunately these applications were unsuccessful.
In 2010, a decision was made to undertake the work in bite sized chunks. The first action is to carry out habitat suitability modelling. This was undertaken by Biodiversity Information Service (BIS) under contract to CCW.
Phase 3 - Habitat Suitability Modelling
The aim of the model is to use habitat suitability mapping and survey information to:
- Deliver the initial audit of sites in Wales and the baseline information for the prioritisation exercise.provide the basis for an assessment of favourable conservation status (fcs) for this species a requirement of the EU Habitats and Species Directive.
- Assist the Local Planning Authorities in assessing plans, fcs at a local level as required when determining planning applications and drawing up Unitary Development plans
- Assist CCW staff when advising WAG on licence applications
Using a dataset consisting of over 8000 records, a first draft of the model has been compiled. However, there is still a need to refine the results before it can be used. This will involve close working with the Local Records Centres and Volunteers to validate and verify the records this financial year.
If you have any queries on the project, or wish to help validate and verify your local records please contact: LHundt@bats.org.uk