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Older buildings increasingly important to the future of bats.


26 May 2009

Bat populations have been in decline for the last 30 years and - since 1981 - have been protected by strict legislation which prevents disturbing, destroying or blocking access to any bat roost or colony.

Dr David Bullock, Head of Nature Conservation at the National Trust, said: "Bats are one of our most loved and fascinating mammals. Their reliance on traditional buildings such as cottages, barns and country houses raises the stakes when it comes to building and conservation work. If considerations about bats aren't at the heart of any building work, and our old buildings aren't maintained, then they both face an uncertain future."

A new report entitled Bats in Traditional Buildings has been published by the National Trust, English Heritage and Natural England to provide guidance and advice to architects, builders, bat consultants and home owners on the practicalities of carrying out building work when bats or their roosts are present.

The future survival of many species of bat is increasingly dependent on well-planned and executed building work. Rare and threatened bats such as the lesser horseshoe, greater horseshoe, serotine and pipistrelle bat use buildings for both their summer and winter roosts.

"Thinking ‘bats' from an early stage will help to avoid delays to building work and allow any changes to be made to take into account their use of buildings," says the National Trust's Dr Bullock.

Dr Bullock added: "Bats and buildings can and should be able to coexist.  As their natural roost sites have been lost, traditional buildings have become vital to the lifecycle and without them many species of rare and threatened bat could struggle to survive."

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