BCT convenes the annual UK Bat Steering Group meeting, with representatives attending from the Statutory Nature Conservation Bodies, Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Forestry Commission, Environment Agency, National Trust, Vincent Wildlife Trust, Historic England and academia. Each year we choose a current topic and invite relevant guest speakers.
The topic for the 2021 meeting was bats and trees/woodland surveys and mitigation. We had so much to cover that the meeting was split over two sessions.
The first session was about tree/woodland surveys and included presentations on:
- Bat Survey Guidelines
- Bat Tree Habitat Key
- Can you see what I see?
- A new approach to surveying trees for bats
- The effectiveness of ground level tree inspections and aerial tree inspections to determine the value of trees on a site to support important assemblages of woodland bats: lessons learnt from conservation projects and working on large scale infrastructure schemes.
- Advanced Surveys for Woodland Licensing
- Advanced Surveys of Bats in Woodland
From the day it became clear that we need to update and refresh our approach to surveying trees and woodland for bats and this will be reflected in the upcoming 4th edition of Bat Surveys for Professional Ecologists - Good Practice Guidelines.
The second session was about tree/woodland mitigation and compensation and included presentations on:
- Bat Roosts in Trees - Ideas on Mitigation and Creation
- Bat Roost Tree Tag Project
- Fruit Trees
- Bats and Trees in the Draft Bat Mitigation Guidelines
From the day it became clear that we need more research on the efficacy of methods used to mitigate and compensate for the loss of trees and woodland used by bats. The new draft Bat Mitigation Guidelines provide updated advice and are now available on the CIEEM website for comment.
The topic for the 2020 meeting was bats and climate change and included presentations on:
- Climate Change and the Natural Environment;
- Woodland, Bats and Climate Change;
- The Objectives and Structure of COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) Action on Bats and Climate Change;
- Bats and Climate Change Research; and
- A Research Round Up.
From the day it became clear that climate change is impacting differently on the east and west of the UK. There is likely to be movement north of species ranges, making the UK potentially very important for some European species. Movement could see new communities of bats and potential for competitive interaction. There will also be changes in insect prey/pest and bat relationships. In all of this the landscape and land management changes and connectivity will be important as stressors or opportunities. Raising awareness and working together on this will be of vital importance. This theme was further explored in the 2020 National Bat Conference.
The topic for the 2019 meeting was how to maximise the use of new technologies for bat surveys. The theme of new technologies was further explored at BCT's Conservation and Technology Conference in September 2019. During this meeting, some of the barriers identified to the uptake of new technologies were the availability of information, guidance and training on each type. As an output from the meeting we have produced a table of new technologies for bat surveys including how different technologies can be applied to bat surveys, their pros/cons and sources of guidance and training.