Species Action Plans
Associated Habitat action plans
1.1 There are currently 16 species of bats known in Britain. Eight of these have been recorded in Birmingham and the Black Country.
The status of bats in the Birmingham and Black Country regions is tentative, being based on relatively few records, and may change in the future.
1.2 Over the last 15 years the Birmingham and Black Country Bat Group has steadily increased knowledge of the region's bats and raised awareness of this group of mammals with the support of English Nature, the Bat Conservation Trust and the Wildlife Trust.
Bats are here dealt with collectively instead of as single species for the following reasons:
However there is a need to guard against the assumption that a conservation measure designed to conserve one species will be of benefit to all.
1.3 The bats listed above have been recorded within the boundaries of Birmingham and the Black Country. Lesser horse-shoe bat has been recorded within 4 km of the boundary of the area and so may be found within the sub-region. Because bats are amongst the most difficult of mammals to survey there is a lack of information on their population dynamics and the relative impact of the factors believed to be causing their population decline nationally.
Most records relate to Pipistrelles and practically all the known summer roosts are used by this species. Hibernation sites generally come to light during building works when single or small numbers of bats may be discovered. The most significant hibernation site in the sub-region is the complex of former limestone mines under Dudley where up to five species have been recorded.
There is strong evidence that indicates a decline in bat populations, in at least some species, throughout Britain. However, there is no information available to determine bat populations trends in the Black Country and Birmingham areas. It is unlikely that such information will be available during the life of this Biodiversity Action Plan. The main threats to Black Country and Birmingham bats can be divided into three groups:
Bats may forage up to 4km from their roost sites therefore bats may use large areas of the sub-region for foraging. Each of the species of bats have their own habitat preferences (see 1.1). Foraging habitat must provide bats with their insect food and must be linked to a sheltered network of 'commuting' routes which enable them to fly across the landscape sheltered from strong winds and protected from predators. The structural nature of the vegetation within foraging areas is more important to bats than plant species diversity. In the Birmingham and the Black Country bat roosts are often found in buildings on the edge of open space, green wedges or agricultural land which indicates the importance of these places as foraging areas. There are also pipistrelle colonies which occur in the middle of urban or suburban areas where gardens apparently comprise the majority of their feeding habitats.
Loss of foraging habitat is perhaps one of the major threats to bat populations in Birmingham and the Black Country. Undeveloped land which often does not meet the standards for designation as SSSIs or SINCs probably forms the bulk of bats' foraging areas. Such sites are vulnerable to development pressures. The loss of large rear gardens to small-scale housing development often results in the loss of long-established trees or hedgerows and reduces the structural diversity of foraging habitats for bats. The commitment of central government to utilising 'brownfield' sites for development is likely to lead to further habitat loss for bats.
Fragmentation of habitats used by bats is a further threat. Bats are amongst the most susceptible mammal species to habitat fragmentation.
Bats have a tendency to roost communally and require a range of roosting sites throughout the year. Summer roosts are generally found in different places to hibernation sites. Most species of local bats are reliant on buildings or other structures and it is possible that some species, for example brown long-eared bat, would not be found as far north as Britain without buildings. Some species also use trees for roosting. In Birmingham and the Black Country the few tree roosts discovered have been occupied by either pipistrelles or noctules.
The tendency for communal roosting means that whole populations are vulnerable to the destruction of occupied roosts through building alterations, demolition or remedial timber works where roosts occur in buildings, and pruning or felling works where roosts occur in trees.
Bats have very specific roost requirements and the assumption that any loss to a roost site can be permitted because there are other apparently suitable roost sites in the vicinity may be misplaced.
The extent of losses to bat populations in the sub-region resulting from destruction of roosts or exclusion of bats from roosts cannot be quantified because knowledge of the location of roosts is so limited.
2.3.1 Cat predation. A significant number of bats received by the RSPCA and the Bat Group have been injured or killed by cats. There are instances where individual cats become accomplished at catching bats.
2.3.2 Deliberate persecution. It is possible that deliberate persecution is a significant threat. The main threat would be from householders unwilling to retain a bat roost in their house and directly removing it without reference to the statutory authorities.
European. Over much of Western Europe bats are protected by the following conventions and legislation:
National. The following national legislation protects some or all species of bats:
In addition Planning Policy Guidance Note 9: Nature Conservation (1994) advises local Planning authorities that the presence of bats (or any other protected species) is a material planning consideration when determining planning applications.
|5.1 Policy and legislation|
|Seek the inclusion of effective measures which protect bats and their habitats in the preparation of Unitary Development Plans and/or other policy documents.||LAs||EN, WT, EA||As Unitary Development Plans and other policy documents are prepared.||2, 4|
|Seek the inclusion of effective measures for site and species protection in the preparation of Local Environment Agency Plans and/ or other policy documents.||EA||LAs, EN, WT||As LEAPs and other policy documents are prepared||2, 4|
|5.2 Species management and protection|
|Identify roosts and ensure that the information is available to LPAs so that sites can be protected.||BatG||WT, ER, LAs||2, 3, 5|
|Identify important bat foraging areas.||BatG||2, 3|
|Revitalise the Birmingham and Black Country Bat group to enable it to respond to all requests for advice and information arising in the sub-region.||EN, BatG||WT||All|
|5.4 Future research and monitoring|
|Participate in national initiatives to monitor bats organised by the BCT and others.||BatG||WT||3|
|Encourage householders or other roost owners to collect and submit records on their roosts.||BatG||WT, ER||3|
|5.5 Communications and publicity|
|Provide education for the general public and the affected user community.||BatG||WT||1, 6|
This Biodiversity Action Plan will be implemented over 10 years with a first review after 5 years. A group will be set up to co-ordinate implementation and to report to the Biodiversity Steering Group. This group will meet at a minimum on a yearly basis.
Review will be carried out in conjunction with related Habitat and Species Action Plans as appropriate.
Review will consist of measuring achievement of targets. The group will, with the support of the Steering Group, develop and implement appropriate monitoring methods which will inform the review process.
The Action Plan will be revised and updated in the light of review results and any relevant changes in circumstances and/or additional information which becomes available during the review period.
In line with national guidance, the Steering Group will report to the UK Steering Group.
Biodiversity Action Plan for Birmingham and the Black Country © 2000
Printing of this publication for educational purposes is permitted, provided that copies are not made or distributed for commercial gain, and the title of the publication and its date appear. To copy otherwise, or to republish, requires specific permission from the Steering Group.