8th November 2012

After the wettest summer in 100 years bats face an uncertain future. With poor foraging conditions for bats leading up to the months spent in hibernation only time will tell how many bats have found enough food to survive the winter.

Countless bats did not survive this summer. Summer roosts were reported empty and many maternity roosts did not form. In those maternity roosts that did form some mother bats were forced to abandon their babies. Bats have just one baby a year so one bad month can lead to long lasting consequences. In November bats normally head for hibernation as the weather cools and their insect prey dwindle in number, hibernating over the winter months in cool quiet roosts. If these roosts are disturbed or the temperature fluctuates significantly bats may wake up and expend the valuable energy that they need to survive until spring. When bats emerge from hibernation they will be weak, hungry and thirsty.

The Bat Conservation Trust is appealing for donations to support landscape scale conservation efforts helping to provide bats the food, water and shelter that they need to survive. Over the winter the Bat Conservation Trust is working with partners to protect habitats and create wildlife rich meadows, forests, gardens and parks and build new sites to shelter bats; we've published a new guide Landscape and urban design for bats and biodiversity too. Bats need a connected landscape with hedgerows, waterways and trees, so they can travel safely between their roosting and feeding sites. We must lobby governments to ensure that the roads, railways and lighting that slice through the landscape do not act as barriers to bats, blocking bat flight lines and severing the hedges that link their habitats.

Maps of the landscape are being developed from a bat perspective showing planners and local authorities where there are important bat sites. BCT's Woodland Project is giving advice to foresters and woodland owners on how to protect bat roosts from felling and create woodlands for wildlife, and working with the Forestry Commission to protect bats whilst halting the Ash dieback.

On top of this the National Bat Helpline is continuing to protect roosts by giving advice to homeowners and helping bats that do get woken up during hibernation. And we are working on a Bats and Churches project so that churches remain a sanctuary for bats whilst helping church communities to manage their roosts.

Julia Hanmer, Chief Executive of the Bat Conservation Trust explains:

"We have been fighting the threats to bats on all fronts, from poor weather, through attacks in the media, to cuts in funding to the Bat Helpline emergency service, as pressures on bats are taking their toll. Bats cannot survive in isolated pockets that are closing in around them, sealed off from other bat populations and the habitats they need. Bat populations can only thrive and grow in safe diverse spaces. We know there are huge challenges ahead, as creating landscapes for bats is ambitious, but we already making progress and if bats are to survive we have to create the spaces they so desperately need"

Donate online or call us on 0845 1300 228.