6th November 2013

In the recent high winds a large number of trees have fallen or been damaged. This will necessarily result in a large amount of work either to remove fallen trees, make safe trees that are a danger to the public or to act on damage to the trees.

When carrying out these necessary operations, BCT urges all arborists, foresters and woodland managers to follow good practice by considering the presence of bats and their roosts to ensure that vital bat roosts in trees are not forgotten.

All bat species that breed in the UK (17) make use of woodlands for feeding or for moving through the landscape but several of our species also rely on trees for roosting. The decline in all UK species of bat in the last century means that all bats and their roosts are protected by law.


Good practice guidance exists for arborists (http://www.trees.org.uk/tree-care-advice/Tree-advice-guides/Guidance-Note-1-Trees-and-Bats) and foresters and woodland managers (http://www.forestry.gov.uk/pdf/england-protectedspecies-bats.pdf/$file/england-protectedspecies-bats.pdf

Click here for further bct guidance

The key points to consider are:

  • Does the tree on which you are intending to carry out operations, or those that will be affected by these operations, have the potential to contain bat roosts?
  • If so can disturbance, damage or destruction of the roost be avoided by approaching the work in a different way?
  • If it is not possible to avoid such damage and you believe a bat roost could be present then expert advice will be needed and a relevant licence sought from your statutory nature conservation organization (SNCO) - http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/contact_your_snco.html.

Emergency works to trees for public safety reasons

If a tree is considered a threat to public safety and it is suspected the tree is likely to contain a bat roost then contact should be made with the relevant SNCO (as above), local police liaison officer or the Bat Conservation Trust's (BCT) National Bat Helpline (0845 1300 228) prior to work commencing if at all possible.

If bats are discovered during works

  • Stop work immediately and seek advice from the relevant SNCO on how to proceed. If SNCO staff are unavailable contact the National Bat Helpline (0845 1300 228). This is available Monday-Friday 9am-5.30pm all year round. During the active bat season an out of hours service is also available (evenings and weekends).
  • Handle bats (with gloves) only if absolutely necessary to contain them in a box if their roost is damaged and they are vulnerable. In the box place a small, shallow container e.g. a plastic milk bottle top with a few drops of water(not enough for the bat to drown in). Keep the bat somewhere quiet and dark and seek help via the numbers given above. Always wear gloves when handling bats due to the small risk of a rabies type virus and should you be bitten or scratched by a bat seek immediate medical attention.

Head to the Forestry Commission by clicking here to find out more about safeguarding UK protected species.