According to the Bat Conservation Trust, there has been a marked decline in numbers and distribution of these species, particularly in western and northern Europe. (The Greater variety has declined by over 90% in the last 100 years).
Their decline is attributable to several factors, including disturbance to roosts and intensive agricultural practices including loss of permanent pasture. Both species are particularly sensitive to disturbance, especially of their nursery and winter roosts.
Bats and their roosts are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, the Conservation Regulations 1994 and the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. Should any work be planned that could result in the disturbance of bats or their roosts, the relevant Statutory Nature Conservation Organisation - English Nature, Countryside Council for Wales, Scottish Natural Heritage or the Environmental and Heritage Service (N. Ireland) - must be consulted.
The Bat Conservation Trust offers free advice on its helpline 0845 1300 228. Further information can be found at www. bats. org. uk.