23rd July 2009

A new project being piloted in Greater London this month is looking to engage community-led groups with bats and bat conservation.

Green City Bats was developed by the Count Bat Project, part of the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) to inform community groups about bats and their presence in local areas. Funded by Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), City of London's City Bridge Trust and Natural England, it will encourage people to get out and about in their local environment through bat-focused activities such as night time bat walks, bat surveying and organised planting days to encourage bats to feed and roost in the local area.

The initiative will work with Friends Groups which includes Friends of Parks, Churchyards, Gardens and other green spaces as well as community conservation and action groups. The groups can use the resources provided by Count Bat to improve the understanding of bats within the local community.

Ed Santry, Count Bat Project Regional Officer (London and South East) at BCT said: "In order to work towards our vision of bats and people living in harmony, the Bat Conservation Trust wishes to involve as wide a spectrum of people as possible in bat conservation.

"Parks and green spaces are a valuable resource to urban wildlife and local communities alike. They offer an exciting and unique opportunity for people to interact with the environment and provide vital habitats for a variety of species. Bats are an indicator of a healthy environment so having them present and encouraging them into your local area will lead to a greener space for everyone to enjoy.

"The Green City Bats project is a great way for people to get more involved in bat conservation in cities, providing information and advice on bats and helping to protect these wonderful mammals, which are under threat."

The project idea originated as a result of an interest in Count Bat from 'Friends' groups. These community-led groups work with local councils and site managers to ensure that the views and ideas of the local community are considered in the practices employed and provide the perfect opportunity to further bat conservation through the provision of information and resources.

Meike Weiser, Community Partnership Officer at Croydon Council added: "We have recently worked with the Count Bat team in Croydon. Green City Bats will greatly complement the work that we have already carried out and will provide the Friends groups of Croydon with further information on bats in the area and how they can be conserved. Our Friends groups run a variety of activities and Green City Bats will further help to enhance and diversify the community events that they offer."

The Count Bat project is a four year, England-wide initiative, which works with the existing bat community, voluntary organisations and local communities to introduce new audiences to bat conservation and address barriers to involvement. Green City Bats will be rolled out across other cities in England in 2010.