Bats in Trees and Woodland

Alex McAuley 125

Bats in Trees and Woodland

Alex McAuley, Policy & Development Officer at the Institute of Chartered Foresters, examines the potential impact of BSI Surveying for bats in trees and woodland guidance document on the sector.


The development of a standard on Surveying for bats in trees and woodland was first discussed by the British Standards Institute (BSI) in September 2013. Due to widespread opposition, there has recently been a shift towards the development of a guidance document. The purpose of The British Standard is to give guidance on bat surveying to those professionals directly involved in the management of trees and woodland, enabling them to attain the necessary understanding of the surveys and checks that they can do themselves, while identifying the occasions when the services of a bat specialist might be needed.

However, following consultation with our members, ICF is concerned that the British Standard will simply become a job creation scheme, with no guarantee that it will improve bat surveys or improve the conservation of bats. More specifically, we believe that this has the potential to slip into planning application guidelines and effectively become compulsory rather than mere guidance. There is a strong danger that more guidance is likely to burden the sector and may well lead to more neglected woodlands, with negative connotations for biodiversity.

Common Long eared bat credit FC web

Common long-eared bat (c) Forestry Commission

In response to the consultation, we explained to BSI that as professionals, our members already understand the importance of taking the needs of European Protected Species into account when planning and executing management operations. ICF, however, would encourage all members to consult with specialists should you feel that you are not best placed to undertake surveys. It is important that members are familiar with existing guidance from Forestry Commission and the Bat Conservation Trust, which highlights the need to take account of European Protected Species legislation, when conducting management plans.

We were only too aware that BSI portal has made the process onerous and has deterred individual responses. We expressed our concerns and have called for the guidance to be fully exposed, researched and trialled by various industry sectors before considering its release. ICF will continue to engage and keep members informed of developments.

Should you wish to read the full response then please visit the Members’ Area.

England James

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