Thursday, 20 September 2018

The MSP’s championing our bats - The Species Champions Initiative 100 day challenge

by Liz Ferrell, BCT's Scottish Officer

I am always a bit apprehensive before bat walks as there is always the weather to contend with in Scotland! But, it has to be said, bats have never disappointed me. They are hardy little mammals and they put on a good display for us as we walked around Holyrood Park in Edinburgh. Perhaps they enjoy the big occasions and Tuesday night was definitely one of those!

Through the Scottish Environment LINK, member organisations (which includes the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT)) were asking over 100 Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSP), who had accepted to become a Species Champion, to participate in a series of actions over a 100 day period (#Species100). We were asking them to help raise awareness about their selected species, the threats to their populations as well as the wider biodiversity concerns in Scotland. 

Taking part in the bat walk as part of this challenge were MSP’s Annie Wells, Finlay Carson and Fulton MacGregor who all attended on what was a wet and windy night at Holyrood. It needed more than rain to dampen their spirits however and it was lovely to chat to them about bats as well as their work as MSP’s. 
All excited to start our bat walk outside the Scottish Parliament 

I am happy to say that their smiles remained there for the remainder of the night! Annie was very pleased to have her species, the common pipistrelle, foraging over her head and we watched as the bat continued to fly back and forth. The poor thing was fighting against the wind and we all agreed that he or she was a determined individual!

Finlay was as keen as ever, even without the opportunity to see or hear his species, the Leisler’s bat. He is very passionate about his chosen species which is found in his constituency of Galloway. He has visited the Wood of Cree where these rare bats are fairly common. Fulton too has still to see his species, the natterer’s bat, and without visiting a roost (which I have promised him) it is a tall order! They are not as easy to find as our pipistrelle species are. But, he knows a lot about his species already and I have run a bat walk for him in his local constituency in August.

Reflecting back on this 100 day challenge, I have to say it has been great. It was such a pleasure to see how genuinely enthusiastic our MSP’s all are about their species and to see that they know so much already about bats! It has certainly kick started my engagement with them and I am really looking forward to working with them all going forward as we organize some more batty evenings. I hope I will have further news to share with you on this initiative soon…

LINK’s award-winning initiative “Species Champions” pairs MSPs with species that are under threat in Scotland. With almost 1 in 10 species in Scotland at risk of extinction, political support for protecting our precious natural environment has never been more critical. To find out more about this initiative check the Scottish Environment LINK’s website here

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