Celebrating success- What we’ve been up to.

The first couple of months of this campaign have been very busy and we think we’ve made some great progress! My previous blogs have focused on what you can do to help, so this week I thought I’d focus on what Blinded by the Night have been up to.

Blinded by the Night have been working with three stakeholders, who we think will be able to make the biggest difference in protecting bats around Stoke Park. Our first is you, the public, particularly those who live around Stoke Park and Bristol! In an initial awareness survey almost 75% of you said that you were aware that artificial lighting can negatively impact bats, which was an amazing start! In our follow-up survey a few weeks later, this increased to 92% of you, which is even better! Another exciting achievement was organising an online event alongside Bristol’s Bats and Bristol Nature Network. We hosted two expert speakers, Dr Emma Stone from the University of the West of England (UWE) and Jo Ferguson from the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT). The talks focused on the impacts of light pollution on bats and suggested several ways in which you can help. We had a great turn out, even selling out and being attended by a top researcher in the field! If you weren’t able to make it to the event, a recording is available on YouTube via this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyrTK9aT1SA

Photo credit: Northumberland Bat Group

More successful efforts came from reaching out to UWE’s Frenchay Campus, located right next to Stoke Park, to see whether any changes could be made to their lighting in the hope of reducing its impact on bats. UWE’s Energy Projects Manager, Melissa Clarke, agreed to meet with me and discuss the lighting scheme around campus. From this, we highlighted priority areas to focus conservation efforts on and I later developed some suggestions based on our discussion. I was really pleased to hear that these had been reviewed and sent to various members of staff around UWE. Blinded by the Night have been told that our lighting recommendations have been considered for the new campus accommodation, which will hopefully be implemented and benefit Stoke Park’s bats. We feel our efforts here have been successful and welcomed by UWE, who are clearly invested in biodiversity and sustainability and we look forward to continuing working with them to protect bats!

One of the biggest achievements of this campaign has been from our work with South Gloucestershire Council. Following on from meetings with their Electrical and Building Maintenance Manager, South Gloucestershire Council have agreed to switch their current streetlights to Light-emitting Diode (LED) lamps along Long Down Avenue (next to Stoke Park’s woodland). With this, light spill will massively be reduced, limiting how much shines into important bat habitats. The lights will also be dimmed throughout the night, meaning they aren’t brighter than they need to be. Additionally, upon approval of funding that we have applied for, an ecological survey of bat activity will be conducted over summer to assess the impacts of the streetlighting before and after LED installation. This will provide insight into the effects of different light types on bats and has potential to influence future lighting policies within the area!

Despite only starting a couple of months ago, Blinded by the Night has been able to engage with several stakeholders who share the same concern we do for our declining bats. We have been able to make some positive steps in significantly reducing light pollution around Stoke Park, which will no doubt benefit our local bats!

Next week is my final blog! I’ll be summarising our campaign and discussing the future directions of bat conservation in relation to our increasingly urbanised landscapes.

You can access information on this issue and find out how to help by following Blinded by the Night’s Facebook and Instagram pages. If you have any questions about the campaign or would like to get involved, please contact me via email at Beth2.Gerrard@live.uwe.ac.uk.

How to get involved:

Facebook: Blinded by the Night @blindedbythenightbristol

Instagram: @blindedbythenight_bats