The Bats in Churches partnership project has been successful in its application to Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for a grant of £3.8 million. Securing this funding means that we can now deliver the Bats in Churches project over the next five years, bringing together wildlife, heritage conservation and church communities to save bats and protect churches so that future generations can enjoy and benefit from both.
This ground-breaking project is being led by Natural England with the Church of England, Historic England, Churches Conservation Trust and Bats Conservation Trust as partners.
The UK’s bat population has suffered significant historical declines which is why they are protected by UK law. Loss of natural habitats means some bat species have been forced to find safe havens in buildings including historic churches.Many church communities live harmoniously with bat roosts however, in some cases bats are causing irreparable damage to historically significant church monuments and memorials as well as impacting upon the people who use the buildings.
Recently approved techniques and a new licence developed by Natural England to permit necessary work will be used to improve both the natural and historic environment and to support the people who care for them.
The bats in churches project will:
- Find practical solutions to enable 102 of the most severely impacted church communities to reduce the impact of bats on the church
- Create a new network of fully trained volunteers who can undertake bat surveys and support congregations who have bat roosts at their church
- Train professional ecologists and historic building specialists in new techniques and knowledge to improve their advice to congregations
- Collect and collate up-to-date data from over 700 churches across England, helping to build a specialist knowledge base of bats and their use of churches
- Strengthen local communities so people value and engage with their local natural and historic built heritage
The project will be setting up and recruiting staff over the next few months and a new website will be set up to provide project updates.