The new round of funding will help deliver a five year partnership project, bringing together wildlife, heritage conservation and church organisations to save bats and protect churches for future generations.
Natural England is working in partnership with The Church of England, Historic England, Bat Conservation Trust and Churches Conservation Trust to deliver this ambitious and innovative project.
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.
This national announcement led to a BBC Breakfast film crew to come to Thornham Church to see for themselves the damage that bats are causing to the fabric of the church and the way that the bats impact on the work and worship in Thornham.
Thornham Church has a Maternity roost of about 250 Pipistrelle bats, they arrive in the Spring, have their young, teach them to fly in the safety of the nave and most go away again by mid September.
During this time their presence is noted by the large amount of droppings all over the church. This creates a lot of work for the church community who make sure the building can still be used for services, weddings, funerals and any event in church. It also causes damage to historical artifacts.
Thornham is not alone, around the country many churches have similar problems and this joint initiative by Natural England, The Bat Conservation Trust, The Churches Conservation Trust and The Church of England hopes to:
- Find practical solutions to enable 102 of the most severely impacted church communities to reduce the impact of bats on the church, without harming them
- 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 build 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
Megan Greef, PCC Secretary said:
“We at Thornham are very happy and grateful to be included in the Bats in Churches Project and would like to thank everyone involved especially Phil Parker who has been a great help in the past, present and will be in the future of this project. We also quite enjoyed taking part in the filming for TV, not something that happens everyday.”