Our view on BCT’s Wildlife and Transport Infrastructure Symposium
Last week, our Senior Ecologist Matt Cook attended the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT) Wildlife and Transport Infrastructure Symposium in London on Baker Consultants’ behalf.
This blog outlines his thoughts on the event:
“I have to say, following the Woodland Bat Symposium held in November, this was another excellent event organised by BCT. Although there was of course a slight bias towards bats (which suits me just fine!), the scope of this symposium extended to include a number of excellent presentations covering a variety of other taxa and the potential impacts of the European transport network upon them, as well as some professional practice case studies and advances in technology. Importantly, it seemed the audience was a good international mix of ecological consultants, researchers, wildlife conservationists, government agencies and those contractors with the difficult job of maintaining these critical transport networks.
“There were some very interesting facts, figures and findings presented about the largely negative impacts of roads on wildlife, such as on amphibians, deer, badgers and insects; but conversely also on the importance of some roadside verges for our flora. With regard to bats, the continuing message from Professor John Altringham and his University of Leedsteam, as well researchers from mainland Europe, is that major roads adversely affect bat activity, abundance and diversity and that much of the mitigation in place for these projects (particularly ‘bat gantries’ and mitigation schemes where original commuting routes are ignored) doesn’t usually work. I look forward to reading more research from John Altringham and his team on this in the summer.
Outstretched male bat wing by Lorna Griffiths
“In fact, the wider take home message from the symposium for me was that we will only design effective mitigation strategies for the increasing impacts of our transport infrastructure on all wildlife if we undertake thorough pre-development baseline studies, think carefully about mitigation and compensation design, and undertake comprehensive post-development monitoring. Only by doing this for all those taxa that may be adversely affected, will we eventually arrive at effective solutions; both in terms of monetary cost for governments and the highways agencies, but more importantly to prevent the slow degradation of our natural environment.”
Note: Unless a bat is being rescued from imminent harm, bats should only ever be handled by an appropriately licensed (e.g. Natural England) bat ecologist and should never be handled by inexperienced persons without suitable gloves. All licensed bat handlers are vaccinated against the minuscule risk of rabies and therefore such experienced bat handlers may occasionally handle some species without gloves, as shown in the photograph above.