1st March 2013
The Bat Conservation Trust is working to ensure that all churches that have bat roosts, have the advice and support they need to enable people and bats to thrive together. The Bat Conservation Trust is dismayed to find the Church of England reporting inaccurate statements. We urge churches, congregations and the Church of England to continue to work with us for the benefit of churches, bats and people.
The recent Church of England press release states that "Bat conservation is damaging churches not just physically but financially and cannot be sustained" and falsely claims the Bat Conservation Trust required modifications to be made to a church with bats.
Bat Conservation Trust's CEO Julia Hanmer responds "As both a committed conservationist and Christian, I am sad to see the Church of England publishing inaccurate stories and reviving old misunderstandings about bats. I can't see how this promotes the Church of England's mission which includes "striving to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustaining and renewing the life of the earth.""
Churches have access to a free Bat Helpline (0845 1300 228) run by the Bat Conservation Trust. In England they receive additional support through the provision of trained volunteers who visit churches to offer free advice on behalf of Natural England. In 2012 the Bat Helpline responded to 362 calls from churches of which 3% told us they were unhappy about the presence of bats in their church. 205 churches received a free visit from a volunteer receiving further advice and support.
The Bat Conservation Trust recognises that in some cases, the presence of bats can be very problematic for those who use or maintain church buildings, and that integrating the protection of bats into the care of church buildings can be challenging, especially for small or under-resourced communities. It is often possible to find solutions to address or alleviate such problems, given the right support, and the willingness to find a solution that helps both people and bats.
BCT agrees there does need to be more done to improve guidance and support for churches with bats and to reduce any burden on churches. We have been working with the Church of England to provide much needed advice and support through a number of projects. We have been working with the Church of England on two research studies on bats in churches. We are also running a Bats, Churches and Communities pilot project, working with the Church of England and Natural England.
Parish churches are treasured places of worship and enduring features of our landscape. Since many churches house bat roosts, churches are also important to bat conservation. The Bat Conservation Trust values the contribution made to society by the many churches that support or tolerate the conservation of bats, and by doing so set a good example of how individuals and communities can help to care for the natural world and reverse declines in species.
Bat Conservation Trust and volunteer bat-workers are committed to helping churches and are giving much time and resources to give them as much support as possible. The Bat Conservation Trust will continue to provide free advice and support to churches and we urge the Church of England to continue to work with us to ensure that bats, churches and communities can thrive together.
About bats in churches
Bat populations suffered huge declines in the last century, as important features of our landscape were lost or degraded and consequently all bats and their roosts in Great Britain are protected by law (The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended)).
The only national survey of bat in churches (Sargent 1995), concluded that at least 60% pre-16th Century churches could have roosting bats.
At least 8 species of bat are known to roost in church buildings, including some of our rarer species and some churches have provided sanctuary over many generations.
Although many churches may be unaware of the presence of small numbers of bats, some churches that host large bat roosts experience a range of challenges due to the presence of bats. These include people being discouraged or prevented from using and enjoying the church for worship or community activities because of an unpleasant or unclean environment; difficulty in maintaining their historic buildings and the contents, and cleaning and protecting heritage objects. Although this is very distressing, it is often possible to find solutions to address or alleviate such problems, given the right support, and the willingness to find a solution that helps both people and bats.
The Bat Conservation Trusts is working to ensure that all churches that have bat roosts, have the advice and support they need to allow people and bats to thrive together.The Bat Conservation Trust is working with Natural England, Church of England and through several projects, to improve the guidance, support and options available for churches.
The Bat Conservation Trust run a free Bat Helpline (0845 1300 228) offering free advice and support.
For press enquiries please contact the Bat Conservation Trust Press Office 0207 820 7168
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