What is NBBS?

The National Barbastelle and Bechstein’s Survey (NBBS) has been set up in collaboration with Vincent Wildlife Trust to refine our understanding of the ecology of Barbastelle and Bechstein’s bats and has a number of objectives. These include:

  • refining our understanding on the edge of the species’ range
  • investigating occupancy within the known range (including any range shifts)
  • assessing how habitats and roost features can be assessed accurately for species suitability.

Within this national survey, we aim to identify location and methodologies to improve, connect and expand habitats and will include looking at the influence of woodland/habitat structure as well as the importance of swarming sites within the landscape.

Why these species?

Barbastelle and Bechstein’s bat are strictly protected woodland specialists that rely on semi-natural ancient woodland. However, as just 2.5% of the UK is covered in ancient woodland, the availability of suitable woodland roosting habitat is likely to be an important factor in limiting the size and distribution of these woodland specialist bat populations.

Increased urbanisation, land use change and man-made impacts such as light pollution are also thought to have serious negative effects on these species with increased habitat fragmentation leading to a loss of foraging and roosting habitat. The unique and essential habitats present in ancient woodlands can take centuries to create and therefore cannot be replaced quickly, which places both species at great risk from any activity that impacts ancient woodland.

Why is this important?

Until now there has never been a national survey undertaken for Barbastelle bats and the last national Bechstein’s bat survey requires updating to reflect known range expansions. By gathering this information, we can more accurately inform Nature Recovery Networks (NRN) and Local Nature Recovery Strategies (LNRS) regarding these rare woodland bats. Furthermore, a more comprehensive understanding of these species will allow for more accurate evaluations of negative impacts posed by development plans.

Get in Touch

We are calling for any unpublished data, research, confirmed records or other information in relation to the presence of either Barbastelle or Bechstein’s bats encountered on any surveys, particularly in woodland settings.

If you or your organisation has any information that you would be willing to share with us to inform either of these projects, please contact Jack Hooker at jhooker@bats.org.uk where we can discuss the possibilities further.

Related Projects

In addition to the NBBS, a related project has begun its development phase: ‘Connecting People and Landscapes in a changing climate' (CPL). It has some NBBS-associated methodologies looking to answer different research questions. In the woodland strand of this project, we will be investigating the locations of Bechstein’s bats and whether their distribution could be impacted by climate change (See related content). One of the goals of this strand is the creation of a public-facing dashboard, to be hosted on the BCT website. It will display summarised and aggregated data such as distribution maps of Bechstein’s locations and several graphs related to Bechstein’s records. It will be periodically updated from a centralised database of Bechstein’s records held within BCT. The current plan is that these records will be kept in perpetuity to enable long-term research into Bechstein’s populations. Your existing data would act as a baseline for Bechstein's populations providing a greater understanding of their ecology in the face of climate change.

Furthermore, if the database is successful, it also provides the opportunity for a similar approach to be performed for other rare bat species in future projects.

Please contact Simeon Johnson at sjohnson@bats.org.ukfor further details about the CPL project specifically, including how the data will be used and landowner permissions for data sharing. Data sharing agreements will be similar to existing NBMP agreements.