Giving a ‘Devon seven’ for bats

Photo credit, Hugh Clark

Find out how you can support Devon's bats

My name is Anna David and I’m the Team Lead on the Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat Project. There are just seven months of this project left and DWT needs to raise funds to complete the bat team’s invaluable work this year. Thanks to funding pledged by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, every £7 donated by DWT members is worth £20 for bat conservation in Devon – making a donation of any size go a lot further.

In these final seven months of this Devon-wide project, we need to secure a legacy of support for greater horseshoe bats in the communities where landowners, school groups, local councils and other residents have been engaged in helping bats since the project began in 2014. Can you give a ‘Devon seven’ – each worth £20 for the Greater Horseshoe Bat Project – to help Devon’s most spectacular bat and the insect-rich habitats it needs to thrive?

Seven areas of Devon where bats need support

Significant greater horseshoe maternity roosts are found in seven areas of the county: near Braunton in north Devon; inland from the coast near Beer in east Devon; on the Devon side of the River Tamar near Gunnislake; along the south-eastern fringe of Dartmoor, from Buckfastleigh to Chudleigh; at Berry Head in Torbay and in the Dart and Avon valleys in the South Hams.

How bats can be helped in the next seven months

In the last seven months of this popular project the team needs to ensure that local people in these places have what they need to continue being bat champions when the greater horseshoe baton is passed to them. Here are seven ways your support will help bats and bat-friendly habitats in Devon:

Cornflowers at a wildflower meadow at Ludwell Valley Park

Photo, Andy Thatcher

1. hedges: bats use hedges to aid navigation and they also attract insects, providing a food source for bats. Already more than 200km of Devon hedges are being managed more favourably for bats and other wildlife and over 32km of have been restored or re-created near bat roosts, since the project began. This has exceeded our targets for helping bats but with seven months left, we can still do further hedge restoration and planting this year.

2. woodlands: so far more than 87 hectares of woodland have been recreated and restored with help from the bat team. We hope to reach 95 hectares by the end of the project – and are also working with partners on plans to continue tree planting and woodland restoration to benefit bats and other wildlife beyond this year.

3. wildflower meadows: a vital habitat for insects as well as foraging bats, more than 120 hectares of wildflower-rich grassland has been created or restored, again exceeding the team’s target. But we have one more season to increase re-creation of wildflower meadows and ensure existing species-rich grasslands have the best management plans in place for future years.

Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat Project

4. roosts – from restoring farm buildings to constructing a new roost, the project has helped to improve greater horseshoe maternity roosts across the county. In this final year another five roost structures are to be improved or new roosts created. We are also working with partners and volunteers to continue monitoring as many roost sites as possible in the future.

5. bat friendly communities – Beer and Chudleigh were the first villages to receive Bat Friendly Community status from the project, with support for their local bats secured for the future with parish councils, local businesses, schools, community groups and residents. Five other communities in critical greater horseshoe bat areas – from Braunton to Buckfastleigh - are working towards this award in the next few months, with support from the bat team.

6. schools – 39 school groups across Devon have achieved Bat Buddy status of at least bronze and we will be working with those groups who have not yet reached gold or silver standard this year, adding to the thousands of schoolchildren who’ve had the chance to get enthusiastic about Devon’s bats!

7. Devon Bat Survey – this summer will be your last chance to take part in this county-wide festival of citizen science from your own back garden. So far, 2,328 gardens and green spaces have been surveyed across Devon, resulting in thousands of new greater horseshoe bat records (and many more records for other bat species) from the team’s analysis of 3.4 million sound files. There are 830 slots available to borrow the bat survey equipment in 2020, with bookings taken via the project website – your support can help the team deliver this huge survey for one more summer.

A ‘Devon seven’ donation provides £20 for Devon’s rare bats

Every £700 raised for this project from DWT members like you is worth £2,000 for greater horseshoe bats, thanks to the support pledged by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. So a £70 donation is really worth £200 and a £35 donation becomes worth £100. And every £7 gift provides £20 to help Devon’s greater horseshoe bats.

I’ve been really inspired by the number of landowners, schools and communities taking action for greater horseshoe bats over the years of this project. It is always a pleasure when people share their excitement about how many bat species they have in their garden, or that they’ve seen a greater horseshoe for the first time. All the research carried out, all the habitats made more bat-friendly and all the people enthused about these endearing animals should ensure a more secure future for Devon’s rare bats. But with seven months’ work still to carry out, a donation today – of any size – will help give these amazing creatures the support they need.

Thank you and best wishes


Anna David

Team Lead, Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat Project

PS Don’t forget that every £7 donated is worth £20 for greater horseshoe bats!

Click here to support Devon's bats with a 'Devon Seven'