Finding solutions for bats and church buildings

Author: Diana Spencer

Published on: 13 June 2019

Bats can be found in most historic churches in England, often in such small numbers that they go unnoticed.

In some cases, however, the roosts can become a problem, causing damage to church interiors and putting additional pressure on the volunteers looking after these churches.

The newly-launched ‘Bats in Churches’ project will offer support to project churches struggling to find peace with their bats. Engagement, heritage and volunteer training experts, together with bat and conservation specialists, will work to find locally appropriate and sustainable solutions to help churches and communities to thrive alongside their bats. The five-year project has been made possible by a £3.8 million grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and is working with 102 of the worst affected churches across the country, just under a third of which are in the Diocese of Norwich.

Each church provides a unique set of challenges and the project will be using Natural England’s specially-created ‘Bats in Churches Class Licence’ to come up with a range of new approaches for dealing with bats in churches.

Project ecologists and local builders have already installed rafter bat boxes at Swanton Morley Church, including cameras to monitor how bats are using the new roosts. Professional surveys at seven other churches will design bespoke solutions creating alternative roosts or access for bats and installing protection for wall paintings and monuments.

The project is also helping churches to host fundraising and community events, and providing training, including specialist cleaning workshops. The project will also bolster links between churches and local bat groups and help support the dedicated volunteers whose work is often made harder by the presence of bats.

The most successful approaches will be shared with other churches nationwide. A range of interpretation, advice and engagement activities will also be available to all other churches in the Diocese via the project website.

For more information please visit the Bats and Churches website

Churches looking for advice on their bat population can contact the free Bat Conservation Trust helpline on 0345 1300 228.

The author...

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Diana Spencer

Engagement Officer, Bats in Churches Project

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