Many bat species migrate. For some species these movements may be local; for others they may involve distances of thousands of miles, crossing national borders. Some European bat populations have undergone severe declines in the recent past. The reasons for this are mainly loss of roosts and feeding areas, poisoning from increased use of pesticides, and misunderstanding and prejudice arising from ignorance about bats and their lives and habits. If bats are to be properly protected, conservation activities need to be undertaken at an international level, over the entire migratory range of these species.
The Agreement on the Conservation of Populations of European Bats (EUROBATS) was concluded in London, UK in September 1991, and came into force in January 1994. The title of the Agreement makes it clear that bio-geographical, rather than political, boundaries define the Agreement area. The Agreement aims to address threats to all 45 species of bats identified in Europe arising from habitat degradation, disturbance of roosting sites and harmful pesticides. To this end, Parties to the Agreement agree to work through legislation, education, conservation measures and international co-operation with other Agreement members and with those who have not yet joined.
The most significant items for the Advisory Committee are monitoring and international activities. International protection measures for bats have, above all, to concentrate on those species which migrate the furthest across Europe, in order to identify and address possible dangers caused by bottle-neck situations on their migratory routes.
The UK ratified EUROBATS in January 1994. All bats and their roosts are protected in the UK under the provisions of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981(as amended) and the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 (as amended). Certain UK bat species are also listed on Annex II and all are listed on Annex IV of the Habitats Directive, which is transposed into national law by means of the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 (as amended), and the Conservation (Natural Habitats, & c.) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1995. The UK had designated maternity and hibernacula areas as Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) under the Habitats Directive. Implementation of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan also includes action for a number bat species and the habitats which support them.
JNCC supports Government by providing information for the annual UK National Report, which collates information on bat conservation activities across the UK, and provides scientific advice to Government at Advisory Committee Meetings and Meetings of the Parties.