THREATS TO AND THE CONSERVATION OF BATS IN SLOVENIA
Up until 2008, 30 species of bats have been recorded in Slovenia, and of these, 28 species have been sighted in recent years (Presetnik et al. 2007). Considering the small size of the country this is a relatively large variety of bat species in comparison to the numbers of species in larger European countries. It is important that people in Slovenia protect and preserve the diversity of bats as they have an important role in maintaining the balance of nature (for example, by regulating the number of insects).
The conservation of bats has, as its main goal, the retention of all bat species. The conservation of bats also means conserving their habitats, such as their roosts (winter roosts, maternity roosts, breeding roosts) and their foraging areas (territories where they are active).
The conservation of bats occurs on a number of levels:
1.) Legislation regarding the conservation of nature, the environment and animals contains regulations which deal with urgent actions, and defines unacceptable actions as well as the criminal consequences of any breach of the regulations.
2.) Legal provisions are, in practice, reenergizing bat conservation and protection.
3.) Informational and educational activities introduce conservation regulations and their scientific (biological) basis to the general public.
THREATS AND CONSERVATION OF BATS
Although in nature bats have few predators, the population number of some species (lesser horseshoe bat, greater mouse-eared bat) in Europe in the 60s and 70s of the 20th century drastically decreased (Dietz et al. 2007).
The reasons were unclear at the time, but the decline coincided with the introduction of pesticides and the renovation of buildings where they were roosting. Today the bats in Slovenia (Official Gazette of RS, No., 82/02), as also in Europe and in the world (Hutson et al. 2001) are treated as one of the more endangered animal groups, and it is known that bats are most at risk from people interfering with their habitat areas, for instance:
- the destruction of bat roost sites with the renovation of buildings,
- the prevention of access to buildings by meshing entrances,
- the incorrect installation of grates at cave entrances,
- the disturbance of roost sites (e.g. cave tourism),
- the lighting up of flight entrances and exits on buildings containing roost sites, as well as general light pollution,
- the destruction and reduction of forests, or changes in the management of forests (removing old trees with hollows, destroying foraging areas),
- the destruction of key linear elements in the landscape (borders, hedges, isolated trees …),
- the excessive use of pesticides on agricultural land, - the use of wood preservation substances which are poisonous to mammals.
It sometimes happens that people because of fear, prejudice or the mess of bat guano (of excrement) or out of pure malice still:
- intentionally kill or poison bats in the vicinity of their residences.
Bats are also:
- victims of traffic,
- victims of wind power generators.
Due to the above-mentioned negative effects of people on bats and their habitats the protection of these insectivorous animals is especially important.
LEGISLATION REGARDING THE CONSERVATION OF BATS
Bats in all of Slovenia are legally protected animals, which is why it is necessary to have special permission from the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning under advisement from the Institute of the Republic of Slovenia for Nature Conservation, in order to work with them.
The key items mentioned in the regulations specify that we may not: hurt deliberately, poison, kill, remove from nature, hunt, capture, keep in captivity, disturb or trade in bats. Also, we may not hurt or destroy their habitats (roost sites). Severe sanctions are prescribed for violations.
In practice, the most vital requirement needed for the efficient conservation of bats is the existence of a legal foundation that with laws and other legal instruments regulates and defines the area of the protection and conservation of bats. The following relate to the protection of bats in Slovenia:
1. Slovene legislation with the following acts:
2. European legislation with the following:
3. Remaining international legislation within the following acts:
ACTIVITIES FOR THE CONSERVATION AND PROTECTION OF BATS IN PRACTICE
Protective measures for the conservation of bats exist in a number of different areas. Some from these are already performed by different professional bodies in Slovenia (Centre for the Cartography of Fauna and Flora, The Institute of the Republic of Slovenia for Nature Conservation …), our Association also has some experience with some of these.
2.1 Knowledge of the basic status of bats and the regular monitoring of their status
2.2 General protection of the foraging areas and other habitats of bats and of important landscape elements
2.3 Conservation of roost sites
2.4 Establishment of potential new roost sites
Example: Installing bat boxes next to the Ljubljanica River
2.5 Reducing accident risks
2.6 Care of sick or injured bats
2.7 Educating and informing the general public
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Dietz, C., O. von Helversen & D. Nill, 2007. Die Fledermäuse Europas und Nordwestafrikas. Biologie, Kennzeichen, Gefährdung. Kosmos Verlag, Stuttgart. 399 str.
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Hutson, A.M., S.P. Mickleburgh & P.A. Racey (Ed.), 2001. Microchiropteran bats: global status survey and conservation action plan. IUCN/SSC Chiroptera Specialist Group. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. 258 str.
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Presetnik, P., 2001. Varstvo netopirjev na gradu Grad na Goričkem (Predhodno poročilo o spremljanju sezonske dinamike vrst in števila netopirjev (marec 2000 - marec 2001) ter priporočila za varstvo netopirjev. Ljubljana. 36 str.
Presetnik, P., 2003. Strokovni naravovarstveni nadzor nad obnovitvenimi deli na gradu Grad na Goričkem. Naročnik: Ministrstvo za okolje, prostor in energijo, Ljubljana. Center za kartografijo favne in flore, Miklavž na Dravskem polju. 24 str.
Presetnik, P., 2004. Monitoring stanja populacij netopirjev na gradu Rihemberk s poskusom zagotovitve zatočišča (poročilo). Naročnik: MOPE, Ljubljana. Center za kartografijo favne in flore, Miklavž na Dravskem polju. 37 str.
Presetnik, P., 2004. Monitoring stanja populacij netopirjev v Ajdovski jami (poročilo). Naročnik: MOPE, Ljubljana. Center za kartografijo favne in flore, Miklavž na Dravskem polju. 30 str.
Presetnik, P., M. Podgorelec, V. Grobelnik & A. šalamun, 2007. Monitoring populacij izbranih ciljnih vrst netopirjev (Zaključno poročilo). Naročnik: MOP, Ljubljana. Center za kartografijo favne in flore, Miklavž na Dravskem polju. 251 str.
Rodrigues, L., L. Bach, M.-J. Dubourg-Savage, J. Goodwin & C. Harbusch, 2008. Guidelines for consideration of bats in wind farm projects. EUROBATS Publication Series No. 3 (English version). UNEP/EUROBATS Secretariat, Bonn, Germany, 51 pp.
Zagmajster, M., K. Koselj, N. Zupancic, A. Petrinjak & K. Jazbec, 2006. Bat conservation in Slovenia. In: Jones, M., O. Classen & D. Krueger (Eds.), 1991-2006 EUROBATS celebrates its 15th anniversary, str. 94-100, EUROBATS Publication Series No. 1. UNEP/EUROBATS Secretariat, Bonn, Germany
… and other literature
RESEARCH ON CONSERVATION OF BATS
Prepared by: Monika Podgorelec
The text on conservation on this webpage was prepared within the framework of the project “Do not disturb, sleeping bats” funded by the Government Communication Office of the Republic of Slovenia in cooperation with the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning.