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Swanton Novers Woodland Bat Project

‘Discovering the connection between natural heritage and cultural influences in Swanton Novers woodland using volunteers’ 

The Project

Funded and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, The Swanton Novers Woodland Bat Project is an exciting collaboration between the Bat Conservation Trust and Natural England.


Starting in December 2015, the project will run for 2½ years.

The project will engage with local communities through walks, talks and events, reconnecting them with their local woodland heritage and raising awareness about the wildlife using the woods, in particular bats. The project will also be recruiting volunteers and training them in bat survey and call analysis techniques. Once trained, these volunteers will play an active role in the gathering of important data. It is hoped that these volunteers will become Woodland Champions, spreading the word and raising awareness about an important natural heritage. 

Currently not much is known about how bats use woodlands, in particular the interior, and how woodland management affects them. The data gathered through this project will give us an insight into how bats are affected by these management practices and how they use the woods. With a quarter of UK Biodiversity Action Plan priority species, including UK bats using ancient woodlands, Swanton Novers National Nature Reserve (NNR) with its 84ha of ancient woodland, and its long history of active management is the ideal site to run a project like this. What we learn from the project will help secure the long-term survival and protection of the NNR. It will also lead to significant benefits for woodland bats nationally, as the information will be used to provide guidelines for future woodland bat surveying projects at other sites.

The Woods

The project will focus on Swanton Novers Woods, a National Nature Reserve and a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The wood has a long history of active management dating back to the Doomsday book. It is made up of four woodland parcels - Great Wood, Little Wood, Barney Wood and Guybon's Wood and is managed by Natural England. Geomorphology, soil conditions and hydrology varies throughout the reserve which means the site has a rich diversity of plants and is species rich supporting a variety of fauna. It also supports 8 species of bats, including populations of barbastelle bats and brown long-eared bats

Volunteers will collect data in the following ways:

Ten static detectors will be deployed in Great Wood every three weeks in five different locations from April to September. These detectors are fixed to mature trees located close to long term monitoring points which were randomly selected in 2014. In total there are thirty three monitoring points scattered throughout Great Wood, situated in different woodland types, 20 meters from the compartment edge and at least 100 meters away from other monitoring points.  As we would like to investigate the differences in bat activity (presence and/or duration of bat calls) recorded on a bat detector between the canopy and the understory, one static detector microphone will be hoisted into the canopy 10 – 15 meters high, while the other static detector microphone will be fixed to a pole directly below the canopy microphone 2.5 meters off the ground. The data collected will be classified using call analysis software called SonoChiro.


In addition, four transect surveys will be carried out by volunteers once a month and will coincide with the deployment of the static detectors.  The volunteers will assist the project team with analysis of the recordings using BatSound.

The project is looking for volunteers who have a few hours to spare and would like to learn how to survey for bats using equipment provided. If anyone would like to be involved, we are looking for volunteers to help out with bat surveys and call analysis. We are also looking for volunteers to help with walks, talks and community events, so that we can raise awareness about the woods and the wildlife using it. Please contact Sonia at or ring 07788226528 if you are interested in taking part. 


Additional Project Blogs

  • First blog for the Bat Conservation Trust Blog
  • Second blog for the Bat Conservation Trust Blog
  • Third blog for the Bat Conservation Trust Blog
  • Fourth blog for the Bat Conservation Trust Blog

Swanton News can be found here

Information about upcoming events and activities can be found here



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