Britain’s bats edging towards recovery - Bat Conservation Trust

Good news from the darkness today - some of Britain’s bat species are edging towards recovery. The latest long-term survey results released by the National Bat Monitoring Programme (NBMP) show that at least three of Britain’s 17 breeding bat species are showing significant signs of population rise. And another six species or species groups appear stable, according to the latest annual report.

These results reflect relatively recent changes in bat populations, since 1999 for most species. Prior to this, there were historical declines dating back to at least the start of the 20th century.

spotlit bat in flight against a black sky
Common pipistrelle (© Hugh Clark)

Kit Stoner, Chief Executive of the Bat Conservation Trust which leads the NBMP, said: “These positive results indicate that strong legal protection works, and conservation action to protect and conserve bats is achieving success. It is vitally important that this continues. Strong wildlife laws and conservation action are underpinning the recovery of charismatic species such as our wonderful common pipistrelle, after decades of historical decline. This means many of us can now enjoy seeing some of these fascinating flying mammals in our parks and green spaces close to where we live. This recovery is not by coincidence but thanks to sustained efforts and it brings us a step closer to achieving our vision of a world richer in wildlife where bats and people thrive together.”

Species on the increase in Britain include the still relatively rare greater horseshoe bat, lesser horseshoe bat and common pipistrelle. In recent years there have been indications that the Natterer’s bat trend is also rising, however it was not possible to update this trend as the Hibernation Survey was suspended in 2020/21.

Species considered stable include Daubenton’s bat, noctule, soprano pipistrelle and brown long-eared bat. However, findings should be treated with caution for some species, in particular, the serotine, which looks stable, but its scarcity during surveys makes population sizes and changes uncertain.

None of the 11 monitored species are considered to have declined significantly since 1999. It is important to remember that we do not have data for all of Britain’s bat species as some are much harder to record reliably in sufficient numbers to yield reliable estimates.

Access the survey results.

Defra Official Statistics:  Population trends for UK bat species (2022 publication; includes dates up to 2021)

Population trends for UK bat species.

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Posted On: 20/05/2022

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