Act for bats!

Tuesday 18 October 2016

Leading Naturalist and Garden Designer Urge Gardeners to Take Action to Help the Stars of the Night

 TV presenter and naturalist Chris Packham and award-winning garden designer Juliet Sargeant are urging gardeners to do more to help bats this autumn during Wild About Gardens Week which runs from 24 – 30 October.

Organised by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), The Wildlife Trusts and Bat Conservation Trust (BCT), the Week will encourage people to support wildlife in their gardens by providing them with valuable tips on the simple steps they can take to support and protect bats.

The UK’s 17 species of bats are coming under increasing pressure as the wooded areas, ponds and open green spaces they use to feed and roost are shrinking. However, with an estimated 15 million gardens and 27 million gardeners in the UK, this green-fingered army is in a unique position to utilise its network of gardens to create green corridors for bats and ensure that this important mammal not just survives, but thrives.

Often wrongly thought of as a pest, bats are in fact a vital part of our native wildlife and the gardener’s friend. Bats are highly efficient natural pest controllers, eating hundreds of tiny insects every night, including many of the pests that can be damaging to plants and biting insects such as midges. Wild About Gardens Week is a major opportunity for gardeners to help rehabilitate the image of bats.

Chris Packham says:
“I like bats as much now as when I was six. I love watching them swoop and pirouette around my garden and I stand entranced, trying to imagine what it is like to be them, what it is really like to fly that fast, to ‘see’ with sound, to find tiny insects in the air and snatch enough of them for a meal. We can all do our bit to make our gardens more welcoming to bats and all sorts of other wildlife. Find out how by getting involved in Wild About Gardens Week.”

Juliet Sargeant says:
“It is great that bats like all the same flowers as me! It’s no problem for me to find space for things like aubretia, jasmine and Michaelmas daisies. And it seems that almost any herb keeps them happy. I am definitely going to plant with bats in mind from now on.”

Here are some things gardeners can do to help bats:

1. Plant insect-friendly flowers such as Michaelmas daisies – these will attract insects such as moths and make a ‘bat feast’
2. Coppice woody plants such as elder and willow to support leaf-eating insects that help feed our bats
3. Stop mowing a patch of lawn to let the grass grow long – this too is habitat for insect larvae
4. Retain mature trees in a garden - those with hollows can make excellent bat roosts
5. Start a compost heap - lots of bat prey will live in it
6. Put up a bat box or build your own using our recommended guide
7. If space allows, build a small pond or water feature – midges and aquatic larvae are the favourites of the pipistrelle bat
8. Reduce light pollution which disorientates bats – fit hoods to security lighting and only use low intensity garden lights
9. Avoid pesticides in the garden, especially insecticides that will reduce the prey of bats
10. In summer, keep cats indoors an hour before sunset when bats emerge from their roosts

Find a Wild About Gardens Week event here: www.wildaboutgardensweek.org.uk/events  
Or discover how to attract and support bats in your garden with our FREE downloadable booklet: Stars of the Night – working together to create a ‘batty’ neighbourhood.

It contains:
• Great ideas for planning a bat-friendly garden, balcony or window-box
• Details of which bats are most likely to visit your garden and how to listen for them
• A seasonal guide to what bats are doing throughout the year
• Advice on reducing outdoor lighting - floodlit gardens are detrimental to bats

Take part in the Plant a bat feast! competition to find the best insect-friendly plant display in the UK by sharing a photo of your bat-friendly border for a chance to win some fabulous prizes, including a bat box, a bat detector and a visit from a bat expert. All information on the competition, events and advice can be found at www.wildaboutgardensweek.org.uk
 

Contacts:
For further information or to request images please contact:
Liz Carney, The Wildlife Trusts, lcarney@wildlifetrusts.org 01636 670075
Claire Weaver, RHS, claireweaver@rhs.org.uk 0207 821 3043
Joe Nunez-Mino, Bat Conservation Trust, JNunez-Mino@bats.org.uk 0207 820 7168
 

-Ends-

Notes to editors

Wild About Gardens
The Wildlife Trusts and the RHS set up Wild About Gardens www.wildaboutgardens.org.uk in 2009 and Wild About Gardens Week in 2013. It is an annual celebration of wildlife gardening and provides a focus to encourage people to use their gardens and take action to help support wildlife. Over the past 50 years we've seen declines in two thirds of the UK’s plant and animal species, for a range of reasons, including loss of habitat. Many of our common garden species - hedgehogs, house sparrows, starlings and common frogs, for example – are increasingly endangered. Gardens have enormous potential to act as mini-nature reserves. There are 15 million gardens in the UK, estimated to cover about 270,000 hectares – more than the area of all the National Nature Reserves in the UK.

The Wildlife Trusts wildlifetrusts.org
There are 47 individual Wildlife Trusts covering the whole of the UK. All are working for an environment rich in wildlife for everyone. We have more than 800,000 members including 150,000 members of our junior branch Wildlife Watch. Our vision is to create A Living Landscape and secure Living Seas. We care for around 2,300 nature reserves and every year we advise thousands of landowners and organisations on how to manage their land for wildlife. We also run marine conservation projects around the UK, collecting vital data on the state of our seas and celebrating our amazing marine wildlife. Every year we work with thousands of schools and our nature reserves welcome millions of visitors. Each Wildlife Trust is working with local communities to inspire people about the future of their area: their own Living Landscapes and Living Seas.

About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood to inspire passion and excellence in the science, art and practice of horticulture. Our vision is to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener, healthier, happier and more beautiful place. We believe everyone in every village, town and city should benefit from growing plants to enhance lives, build stronger, healthier, happier communities and create better places to live.

We held our first flower shows in 1820, were granted a Royal Charter in 1861 and acquired RHS Garden Wisley, our flagship garden, in 1903. From our first meetings in a small room off London’s Piccadilly, we have grown to become the world’s largest gardening charity. At our gardens and shows and through our scientific research, publications, libraries and our education and community programmes we inspire a passion for gardening and growing plants, promote the value of gardens, demonstrate how gardening is good for us and explain the vital roles that plants undertake.

The RHS is committed to bring the joy of gardening to millions more people, inspire the next generation of gardeners and invest in the future to safeguard a £10.4 billion industry employing more than 300,000 people. We are entirely funded by our members, visitors and supporters. RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and help us secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 020 3176 5820, or visit www.rhs.org.uk/join

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262

Bat Conservation Trust www.bats.org.uk
BCT are the leading NGO solely devoted to the conservation of bats and the landscapes on which they rely. We work closely with many organisations including over 100 bat groups across the UK. Bats are unique and play a vital role in our environment but during the last century bat populations suffered severe declines. We are working to secure the future of bats in our ever changing world by tackling the threats to bats, from persecution to loss or roosts and changing land use. As the authoritative voice for bat conservation we work locally, nationally, across Europe and internationally.

 

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About the RHS

The RHS believes that gardening improves the quality of life and that everyone should have access to great garden experiences. As a charity we help to bring gardening into people's lives and support gardeners of all levels and abilities; whether they are expert horticulturists or children who are planting seeds for the very first time.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit www.rhs.org.uk

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262