New research backed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) reveals European bats to be a major conservation success. Bats are the only true flying mammal in the Earth and there are more than 1,1oo known bat species across the planet. They play very crucial role in insect control and pollination.
With a majority of bat species in Europe stabilising or increasing in number, European bats are well on the way to achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goal 7 on Environmental Sustainability, which aims for a significant reduction in the rate of species loss by 2010.
This bucks the trend in global conservation targets, which are currently being discussed in Nagoya. World governments agreed eight years ago at a UN summit in Johannesburg to reduce the rate of species loss by 2010 but in the majority of cases, the pledge has not been met. This is mainly due to a lack of conservation action in the field, which is essential in protecting vulnerable species.
Among the 26 bat species in western and central Europe, increasing or stable population trends have been reported for at least 14 species, while only two species have shown a decline. (Reliable data is not yet available for the remaining species).
The credit of this success largely goes to legislation and treaties that promotes specific conservation measures. These include the UNEP-administered Agreement on the Conservation of Populations of European Bats (EUROBATS), the Berne Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Council of Europe) and the European Union’s Flora Fauna Habitat Directive.