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EstBatLIFE - Improving the Pond Bat (Myotis dasycneme) habitats in Estonia

LIFE16 NAT/EE/000710


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Contact details:

Contact person: Mari Kaisel
Tel: 37253433346
Email: mari@elfond.ee



Project description:

Background

The pond bat (Myotis dasycneme), a species listed in Annex II of the EU Habitats Directive, is a rare and threatened species in Europe. During the 20th century the population of M. dasycneme declined considerably across the EU, especially in the boreal part of its distribution range. One of the main reasons for this drastic decline has been the decrease in safe winter roosts, which occur in relatively warm and damp underground spaces, such as cave systems and abandoned mines and tunnels. Underground habitats have either been destroyed, or the disturbance level has risen due to high visitor flows. Due to the species’ small size and long hibernation period, waking during hibernation and the resulting loss of energy often proves fatal for the bats. The most significant wintering sites of the pond bat in the whole boreal region are located in Estonia; therefore conservation activities in Estonia play a crucial role for the whole EU population of this species.


Objectives

The objectives of the EstBatLIFE project focus on the improvement and protection of the species’ hibernation sites. Specific objectives are to:

  • Secure the most important hibernation sites from uncontrolled visits;
  • Reduce visitor flows during the hibernation period in the most vulnerable habitats of the pond bat;
  • Stop degradation of habitats caused by low temperatures, draughts and roof collapse;
  • Involve volunteers, private companies and local communities in cleaning the caves and their surroundings, especially the swarming areas;
  • Make policy recommendations for management plans for the pond bat and its protected areas;
  • Raise public awareness internationally, nationally and locally – to influence local inhabitants’ attitudes towards safeguarding bat populations, as well as to improve the understanding of current nature conservation issues, species of EU importance and the Natura 2000 network;
  • Promote the replication of project results at national and international scales and share and gain knowledge regarding habitat requirements and the ecology of boreal pond bat population; and
  • Use high-resolution online bat cameras and 3D images, and organise attractive exhibitions for the general public.
  • Expected results:

  • Closure and safeguarding of most important hibernacula (overwintering shelters) in four project sites, covering approximately 40 underground site entrances;
  • Reduced visitor numbers during the hibernation period, with a drop of 75% compared to the project start in the most vulnerable areas for the pond bat;
  • Significantly reduced temperature fluctuations and draughts in the species’ overwintering shelters;
  • Involvement of volunteers in management actions to create a better understanding and commitment for nature conservation efforts in Estonia: six volunteer camps with approximately 100 participants organised;
  • Suggestions and directions for the conservation management authorities to improve the conservation of pond bat habitats;
  • At least 20 local tourist guides and grass-root organisations are trained for raising awareness of bat issues;
  • Reaching 50 000 persons by public exhibitions, information materials, guidelines for dealing with the ‘bats-in-houses’ issue, public events, and online bat-watching forums with Q/A support, to raise awareness about the values and protection needs of bat species in Estonia; and
  • Sharing experience and lessons learned at the international scale in EUROBATS meetings and work groups.
  • A considerable rise in bat numbers, as a result of the project activities, is expected to become clearly observable in no less than 10 years. A 10% increase in the numbers of hibernating bats in all the project sites is expected five years after the project.


Results


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Environmental issues addressed:

Themes

Habitats - Rocky and Caves
Species - Mammals


Keywords

environmental impact of tourism‚  protected area‚  public awareness campaign‚  voluntary work‚  mine


Target EU Legislation

  • Nature protection and Biodiversity
  • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directiv ...

Target species

 Myotis dasycneme     


Natura 2000 sites

SCI EE0010116 Ülgase
SCI EE0010125 Vääna
SCI EE0010175 Vääna-Posti
SCI EE0080621 Piusa-Võmmorski


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Beneficiaries:

Coordinator SA Eestimaa Looduse Fond
Type of organisation NGO-Foundation
Description Eestimaa Looduse Fond (Estonian Fund for Nature) was established in 1991 by biologists and conservationists in close cooperation with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). It is a non-governmental and independent nature protection organisation, which has carried out research and protection activities on all Estonian bat species, including the pond bat (Myotis dasycneme). These activities have also included raising awareness and advising citizens and organisations on bats.
Partners Estonian Museum of Natural History, Estonia

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Project reference LIFE16 NAT/EE/000710
Duration 01-JUL-2017 to 30-JUN -2021
Total budget 972,395.00 €
EU contribution 583,437.00 €
Project location Põhja-Eesti(Estonia Eesti) Lõuna-Eesti(Estonia Eesti)

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