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Latest bat statistics published

News Item 2023

The National Bat Monitoring Programme (NBMP) Annual Report 2022 has been published today, providing the latest annual results (up to summer 2022) from this world-leading citizen science programme on the status of the UK’s bats.

These latest results show that there is some good news for some – though not all – of Britain’s bats, with encouraging continuing signs of a slow recovery for several of the species monitored by the Programme.  Although there is a long way to go, the results suggest that existing protective laws and conservation actions over the past few decades have helped bat populations recover from significant historical declines.

The NBMP is UK-wide monitoring scheme which has been running since 1996. The data gathered through the scheme allow population trends to be presented for Great Britain (GB) for 11 of the 17 breeding bat species found in the UK. Where there are sufficient data, trends are also provided at a UK level (one species) and at a country level.

In this latest update, GB populations of all eleven bat species for which updated trends are produced appear to be either stable or increasing since the baseline year of monitoring (1999 for most species).  Species which have increased include greater horseshoe bat, lesser horseshoe bat, Natterer’s bat, common pipistrelle and soprano pipistrelle.

The update also presents trends at a country level for all 11 species in England, nine species in Wales, five species in Scotland and one species in Northern Ireland.  The country-level picture is a little more mixed, with some regional variation across England, Wales and Scotland – some species may show slightly different trends depending on location and survey type.

However, the results do present only a partial picture, as trends for the UK’s rarer and more specialised bat species, including some habitat specialist species, which might be particularly vulnerable to habitat loss, are not available. This is due to difficulties monitoring these species or sample sizes too small to produce robust trends.  

Because of their reliance on insect prey, a range of habitats, a healthy climate and good site management, bats are considered important indicators of ecosystem health. The findings from the NBMP provide valuable information on bat population status, change and distribution, and are used by government and conservation bodies to inform evidence needs, and address policy questions. They also form one of the measures used to assess Government progress on halting biodiversity loss.

The NBMP is run by the Bat Conservation Trust, in partnership with JNCC, and supported and steered by Natural England, Natural Resources Wales, NatureScot and Northern Ireland Environment Agency.  The programme is a world-leading citizen science programme: in 2022, close to 1,000 volunteers gave over 13,000 hours of their time to visit 1,502 sites. The NBMP partners are indebted to all volunteers who contribute their time to the programme.

Visit the Bat Conservation Trust website for more information on the National Bat Monitoring Programme (NBMP) and to access the latest Annual Report.

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