Green Rooftops

A Bat-Bird Friendly Roof

A wall insert that's bat-friendly

If you have bats living in your roof, they’ll have to stay there.  Over time, bats have moved away from their original habitat of trees, and increasingly into our roofs. All bat species in the UK are protected under EU law, as is their habitat.

Therefore, if bats are roosting in a roof, or even if a roof is bat friendly, that habitat has to be preserved. This can cause problems if a house or roof is being renovated. Experts have to assess whether bats are roosting in the roof, and if they are, when they will leave so you can safety carry out repairs. This can lead to delays in building work.

The Green Rooftop spoke with Sabah Adams, who works for the Bat conservation trust. The trust works to monitor bats, educate members of the public, and to conserve the 17 bat species living in the UK today. Adams works on the bat helpline. The helpline is a service that handles e-mails as well as calls, giving out general information as well as handling bat emergencies.

“I did once have a call from a man who had two dozen bats flying in the house.  He was very scared,” she tells us. Calls also come in from local groups organising bat walks. Five people on the bat helpline full time, but the number of staff doubles over the summer to take care of demand.

Although you have to legally look after the bats in your roof, they’re not the only species you can think about conserving on your green rooftop. Many bird species make their homes under the shingles and tiles of our roofs. One of those species is the Swift.

“I realised that swifts were in trouble,” Edward Mayer, who founded the Swift Conservation Trust tell us. Originally swifts lived in primeval forests, in old woodpecker holes and in cliffs. But as old trees have been deforested over time the swifts have moved with the timber into roofs. With modern construction practices blocking up the eaves of roofs, their habitat is disappearing entirely, leading to a large drop in population numbers. Mayer’s organisation has worked installing swift boxes in Camden, Islington, London Zoo and even at the Olympic Park.

A great resource for those people looking to make their roof friendly to all sorts of bird species is the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds webpage on Roofs for wildlife.

By Philippa

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