24th October 2023

With pressure on environmental policies in the run up to a General Election, funding from John Ellerman Foundation means BCT can continue to work to safeguard legal protections.

Environmental policy crisis

The UK is amid an environmental policy crisis, with a potential risk to the legislation which protects bats and other wildlife. Conservation charities across the UK are working together to make sure any changes do not increase the decline in our wildlife and environment. And we are asking all the UK’s political parties to include evidence-based policy in their manifestoes to safeguard and restore nature.

Policies which are good for nature are good for people, business and wildlife. For example, a report by Wildlife and Countryside Link estimates the environmental and social costs of de-regulation under the Retained EU Law Act could amount to a loss of benefits worth £82 billion over thirty years.

Why is policy so important for bats?

BCT’s work has helped deliver one of the UK’s few consistent conservation success stories for several bat species. And this has been achieved because of legislation, as mentioned in the 2023 State of Nature report. Though Britain is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world, we know that a combination of legal protection, conservation action and education has assisted the partial recovery of a number of bat species following severe historic declines.

But with the legislation that protects bats, wildlife, habitats, and the environment under threat, recovery for some of our bat species could be undermined or reversed.

Kit Stoner, BCT’s CEO said: ‘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. 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. We are very grateful to John Ellerman Foundation for supporting our vital policy work.’

What work does the BCT do in policy now?

New funding to help us defend nature recovery policy

BCT staff at the Restore Nature Now rally in London.

With a General Election looming, we are working to ensure that legal protections for wildlife are not weakened or removed. BCT advocates for an evidence-based policy framework that supports bat species recovery across the UK. For example, we are seeking to make sure that any new planning and agricultural policies promote nature recovery and protects our natural heritage.

To amplify our policy voice and impact we work with national NGO coalitions, like Wildlife and Countryside Link, Scottish Environment LINK and Wales Environment Link. We, along with over 40 NGOs, recently took part in the Restore Nature Now rally organised by our President Chris Packham. This peaceful demonstration sent a clear message to Government and all political parties that they must Restore Nature Now.

How can I get involved to support good policy for bats?

A General Election will happen soon, and we want all political parties to prioritise nature’s recovery for bats, wildlife, habitats and people. To show support for this, you can join Wildlife and Countryside Link’s pre-election Nature 2030 campaign.

And if you want to keep up to date with all our campaigning, please add your name to the Bat Conservation Trust campaigning mailing list.

John Ellerman Foundation grant

We are grateful to the support from John Ellerman Foundation. Their grant means we can work towards building a strong policy framework that minimises the damage and maximises the wildlife benefits of human activities throughout the UK. It will also help us engage proactively with policy makers whilst providing an opportunity for supporters to engage with their elected politicians or election candidates.

Stephanie Santiano, Grants Officer at John Ellerman Foundation, said, “We are pleased to offer Bat Conservation Trust a grant towards their policy and advocacy work in support of bats and their habitats. The BCT team met with us as part of the assessment process, and our Trustees spoke highly of their reputation as lead experts in their field, as well as their relevant experience in influencing policy.

We believe that a healthy environment is essential to the wellbeing and resilience of people and nature, and recognise the importance of protecting bats as a key indicator species in the UK.”