(reproduced with permission from Forest Group of Churches May Newsletter)
In the United Kingdom we have 18 species of bat, all are insectivorous and a great biodiversity indicator. A single bat can eat up to 3000 midges in one night making them an excellent natural insect controller, but unfortunately over recent years their populations have declined, making each roost important for future survival. Due to their decline, bats and their roosts are protected under European law with a roost defined as any place that a wild bat uses and is protected whether bats are present or not.
Churches have been enduring features of the British landscape and due to their structure have made excellent roosting opportunities for generations of bat populations, particularly in areas where alternative roosts are scarce. About 60% of pre-16th century churches contain bat roosts and we therefore play a pivotal role in securing the future for these fascinating creatures.
I have been attending Ray Lodge Church since a small child and am currently employed by Bat Conservation Trust on the National Bat Helpline. Because churches provide an important community for both ourselves and bats it is essential that each can live in harmony with the other. At Bat Conservation Trust, and on behalf of Natural England, churches may be eligible for a free bat roost visit carried out by volunteers. I recently accompanied a volunteer who visited a local church in Woodford Green as they wished to carry out porch refurbishment works. The church appreciated the service and from the subsequent advice a letter of consent was granted by the faculty for the works to be undertaken as the bats safety was ensured.
Numerous resources are available, so if your church requires assistance or seek information relating to bats please do contact me on the National Bat Helpline, 0845 1300 228 or alternatively by email firstname.lastname@example.org. Every church’s worship is unique and with our support we can help the future survival of this unique mammal species.
Bat Advice Officer
National Bat Helpline - Bat Conservation Trust