Give a Bat a Home – Campaign Overview
Over the last century, many traditional roosting sites — on the edges of our canals, rivers and in nearby woodland — have been destroyed. At the same time, a huge increase in the use of pesticides means that bats don’t have enough to eat or safe places to sleep.
‘Give a Bat a Home’ is an exciting new project, which provides local spaces for bats to roost along the 2000-mile Canal & River Trust waterway network. It forms part of our first ever national bat monitoring scheme, which helps to protect the species by working with local community groups to install roosts and monitor increases in bat populations.
England and Wales’s canals and rivers have transformed from industrial transport systems to open spaces and wildlife corridors where people can connect with nature. Waterways provide the framework to house endangered species, like bats, and the public are not always aware of this. ‘Give a Bat a Home’ was proposed by the Canal & River Trust national environment team to utilise our unique landscape’s potential to safeguard endangered species.
There has never been a scheme that has monitored the population of bats connected to the waterways. As well as its impact on the species, it provides an opportunity for local groups, including sailing clubs, bat groups, anglers and Canal & River Trust volunteers, to be trained to help install and monitor the roosts, increasing their awareness and knowledge of natural heritage within their local community. Any bat checks– which would include the opportunity for volunteers to learn how to handle bats– would be carried out by a licensed bat worker able to train and mentor volunteers. Volunteers would also receive training on how to lead bat walks and interpret and report on the data that is collected as part of the survey.
How you can attract bats into the back garden
Plant bright, nectar-filled plants to attract insects: which bats eat.
Additionally, include white or pale flowers as well. Bats hunt at dusk, and paler petals will stand out in the dark to attract insects during this time.
Have as little artificial light as possible. As bats are nocturnal creatures, areas of bright light will discourage them.
Have a pond with some plants. Bats, like all mammals need water. Not only that, bodies of water are great breeding grounds for insects: their favourite food.
Buy a bat box. Bats need somewhere to roost as natural areas are in decline; one of the main reasons their population is threated. Canal River Trust’s Give Bats a Home campaign aims to raise donations and awareness of this issue, and to build bat boxes where they can roost and create families.
How to monitor bats
Bats are legally protected due to their endangered status. This means if you do have bats roosting in your garden or house, you are required by law to leave them be.
Bats emerge during sunset to hunt, so this is your best chance of spotting them in your garden.
Get involved with the Canal River Trust. Their Give Bats a Home campaign is part of a national bat-monitoring campaign to create bat boxes along waterways for bats to roost.
Here’s a link to the official campaign website, which gives you information on how you can help to create homes for bats: https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/donate/give-bats-a-home