Welsh Agri-environment Monitoring Project
Between April 2009 and March 2012, BCT collaborated with four other conservation NGOs to ascertain whether the Tir Gofal agri-environment scheme had been successful in delivering benefits for nature conservation in Wales. The partnership comprised RSPB (project leader), BCT, Butterfly Conservation, Plant Life and Wildife Trust of South and West Wales and the work was delivered under contract to the Welsh Government. The partners monitored a range of target species on Welsh farms to address the question: do agri-environment schemes help maintain and enhance biodiversity?
Agri-environment schemes form a core part of UK and country-level biodiversity strategy to achieve the target of halting biodiversity loss by 2020. Relevant measures include restoring and creating habitats and specific actions to deliver the requirements of priority species. However whether their potential delivery for bats is realised in practice has rarely been examined.
BCT's part of the project aimed to assess the performance of the Tir Gofal scheme in delivering benefits for selected bat species including several that are designated conservation priority species in Wales. The species studied were noctules, common and soprano pipistrelles, Daubenton's bat and greater and lesser horseshoe bats. Most of the survey methods used to compare the activity of the target bat species on farms in Tir Gofal with activity on similar control farms that were not in the scheme, were based on methods used by the National Bat Monitoring Programme (NBMP).
Over the three years of the project the BCT team, led by Dr Ruth Angell, carried out 684 bat surveys at 290 farms across south Wales, a major contribution to improving species distribution data in Wales. The project results will help inform BCT future advice/actions for bats on agricultural land. The Welsh Government has now published the final report on a web page dedicated to showing the results of all monitoring of the agri-environment schemes in Wales.