28th September 2023

State of Nature 2023

The State of Nature (SON) report is the most comprehensive nature report covering the UK. Working with over 80 research and conservation organisations, SON uses the latest and best data from monitoring schemes and biological recording centres. This includes data from BCT’s National Bat Monitoring Programme (NBMP) which has been running since 1996.

SON 2023 has some stark findings, such as that most of the important habitats for the UK’s nature are in poor condition. But it also shows the benefits of restoration projects and the important role legislation can have on species recovery and the wider environment.

Other key findings include:

  • Only 14% of wildlife habitats in the UK are in good condition
  • 19% of species have seen numbers decline in the UK
  • 1 in 6 species are at risk of extinction in GB

You can read the full report on the SON website.

What this means for bats

At the national scale there is encouraging news for some of the UK’s bat species since they appear to be benefiting from legal protection and on the ground conservation action. Having said that, they still have a long way to go before they recover from large historical declines that happened in the last century which is why it is so important that the legislation is kept, improved and better implemented (read a previous news piece about this here). Weakening the legislation is likely to undermine one of the few conservation success stories we have and even with current legislation in place, several of the UK’s bat species remain threatened with extinction, as our CEO Kit Stoner explains:

‘The UK’s 18 bat species make up a quarter of British mammals and are part of our natural heritage, but they have suffered massive historical declines. Whilst several species are slowly starting to recover thanks to their legal protection and positive conservation action, we unfortunately still have four bat species that are at risk of extinction, with two more near threatened.

Each bat species is unique and requires landscape scale interventions to help them recover. Critically, bats are indicators of ecosystem health, so, if bats are in trouble, many other species are too, but also if we act for bats, we help whole ecosystems. To do the right thing for these important species, we need well-implemented evidence-based legal protections.’

More about BCT’s National Bat Monitoring Programme

NBMP data is collected by hundreds of citizen scientists across thousands of sites and provides national scale population trends for 11 of Great Britain's 17 breeding bat species. In addition to monitoring how bats are doing at the national scale, the data collected can be used by government, researchers and conservation practitioners to inform bat conservation research and action.

Find out more about the NBMP here.