Rare bats and research

A New Forest National Park Authority funded project to record two of Europe’s rarest bat species has uncovered six new bat colonies.

The project, led by Hampshire Bat Group, aimed to identify areas of the New Forest where the barbastelle and Bechstein's bat species exist, areas where they forage for food and the roost locations of colonies.

The research was conducted by around local volunteers who also took part in raising awareness and training events.

A grant from the New Forest National Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund (SDF) helped the group to buy a range of technical survey equipment which the Hampshire Bat Group continues to use to undertake further research.

Until recently only a handful of breeding sites for either species were known in the UK.

Although the project was set up in 2006 to last a minimum of three years, Hampshire Bat Group has decided to continue for at least 10 years to collect data across the whole of the National Park.

By 2008 two colonies of barbastelle and three, possibly four, colonies of Bechstein’s bat were recorded. In 2010 the group discovered a new Bechstein’s maternity colony where 64 bats were recorded – making it the largest in the New Forest.

Bats are incredibly vulnerable due to roost disturbances and human impacts. Although populations of the more common species have stabilised in recent years, there have been major losses in numbers of other species compared to levels in the 1970s.

Because of the quality of the habitats in the New Forest, bats can be commonly encountered here – in buildings and trees. The Hampshire Bat Group initially started the survey of barbastelle and Bechstein’s bats on Forestry Commission land but there has been follow-up work both on the Crown Lands and with estates and private landowners which has already identified some major findings.

The information gathered will guide land management within the New Forest to help the species survive.

Photo credit: Colleen Mainstone

  1. Batty about bats
  2. Bat facts
  3. New Forest bat species
  4. Rare bats and research (you are here)
  5. Legal status of bats
  6. Get involved with bats


image-fade-right image-fade-left