Lesser Horseshoe Bat Conservation Project
What is the Lesser Horseshoe Bat Conservation Project?
The Lesser Horseshoe Bat Conservation is an EIP (European Innovation Partnership) project being administered by Mulcair Catchment Ltd. The Project is funded by the EU Recovery Instrument Funding under the Rural Development Programme 2014-2022. It is one of 24 projects from around the country that were successful under the Competitive Call 5 announced in February 2021, known as the ‘Farm and Community Biodiversity Initiative’. This initiative sought proposals for the development and implementation of actions that will enhance local on-farm biodiversity. Although all nine Irish bat species are found on farms, the lesser horseshoe bat is probably the one most dependent on the structures and habitats found on farms.
Read the Lesser Horseshoe Bat Project Report HERE.
County Limerick is a critical link between the lesser horseshoe bats that occur in west Cork and Kerry and those farther north, in counties Clare, Galway and Mayo. There are only 13,000 horseshoe bats within these six counties but, due to changes in the landscape over time, colonies in these counties are becoming isolated, which places the overall population at risk of inbreeding. The conservation status of this species was recently downgraded from ‘Favourable’ to ‘Inadequate’ and further declines in its distribution and range are inevitable unless action is taken to conserve it. This action must, though, be targeted where it will be of most benefit. Recent research revealed that river systems are key potential corridors for the species and so Vincent Wildlife Trust (VWT) approached the ongoing Mulkear River Catchment Project to create this new initiative for the lesser horseshoe bat.
The Lesser Horseshoe Bat Conservation Project has provided new and permanent summer roosting sites for the species in lowland locations within the Mulkear River Catchment and raise awareness of the important role that farmers play in its conservation. The new roosts are located on farms within a few kilometres of waterways or woodlands that will, in time, increase the chances of this species being able to connect with colonies in other areas of Limerick and possibly even in adjacent counties. This objective is tailored to have a positive impact for the lesser horseshoe bat and benefit other wildlife but no negative impact on the day-to-day work on the farm. The new roosts are small, similar in appearance to the traditional pump houses found on many Irish farms.
Key project activities
This project worked with the farming community in the Mulkear Catchment to provide the bats with new days roosts and enhance biodiversity generally. It has:
(1) Provided permanent new bat roosts on farms
(2) Incorporated additional roosting and nesting places for other bat species and pollinators in the bat houses
(4) Raised awareness amongst the farming and wider rural community of their roles in conserving this species through training workshops and other educational material
(5) Developed a versatile on-farm model for lesser horseshoe bat conservation that could be replicated in other counties under future agri-environment schemes.
Actions for Lesser Horseshoe Bats on Farms leaflet
The leaflet can be downloaded HERE.