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Bat Conservation International is dedicated to finding “win-win” solutions, benefiting bats and people, to secure the future of the world’s 1,300+ bat species in the midst of today’s unprecedented threats and challenges. Our approach is multi-dimensional, utilizing science to drive conservation action, focusing on local capacity building and education to ensure the sustainability of our work around the globe, investing in policy and legislative frameworks to institutionalize bat conservation practices and awareness, and developing effective marketing campaigns to expand our membership and support base. Simultaneously, BCI will continue to invest in its own organizational framework and capacity so that its employees, volunteers, and partners are well equipped to take the proactive steps necessary to achieve our mission.
To maximize its conservation impact, BCI is focused on ten critical conservation strategies:
1. Accelerate Scientific Research
Large gaps in our knowledge of the location and range, population, habitat requirements, ecology and threats for each species of bat persist, with 30 percent of all bat species considered especially “data deficient” by scientists. BCI will partner with Washington DC-based NatureServe and many others to create a global inventory of the location, population size and stability of bat species that allows BCI and others to set increasingly objective priorities for protecting bat species. BCI and its partners will also help populate the growing DNA and acoustic databases for bats and expand its Global Grassroots Grants program and other efforts to answer questions essential to bats’ lasting conservation.
2. Prevent Extinctions
BCI will work with multiple partners at all levels of society to identify threatened and range-restricted species of bats, especially those listed as Endangered or Critically Endangered by The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and move quickly to halt their decline.
3. Protect Intact Areas with Highly Diverse Bat Communities
BCI will seek out opportunities to leverage its conservation impact by identifying and protecting landscapes of high ecological integrity with high bat species diversity.
4. Preserve Mega-Populations of Bats
Bats’ importance to their ecosystems is difficult to overstate. This is particularly true where bat populations number in the many millions, as with Mexican free-tailed bats in the Texas Hill Country and straw-colored fruit bat colonies in Africa. The ecosystem services provided by these mega-populations are profound and if lost, would have serious consequences for agriculture, forestry and ecosystem health. Such populations also hold significant potential for educating the public. BCI will identify and protect mega-populations of bats wherever they are found, including areas containing a high percentage of the total population of individual bat species (major hibernacula, roosting colonies, migratory concentrations, etc.).
5. Forge Global and Regional Strategies and Partnerships
Arresting and reversing the decline of bats requires an integrated global effort. BCI will forge partnerships with myriad organizations at the local, country, regional and global level, including organizations like the World Bank and other international development agencies and with the resource-extraction and energy industries to prevent the loss of habitat for priority species. BCI will also engage and work to strengthen the regional bat scientific and conservation networks with the long-term goal of building a unified global bat federation.
6. Address Threats Impacting Multiple Species at Multiple Sites
White-Nose Syndrome and wind energy facilities are two of several serious threats affecting multiple species of bats across large portions of the world. BCI will work at scale to proactively develop strategies for minimizing such threats.
7. Promote Community-Based Conservation of Bats
Conservation is ultimately local. BCI will partner with and help strengthen the ability of local organizations and communities to protect globally threatened bat species and Significant Bat Areas. Much of BCI’s education and marketing will take place at the community level.
8. Create and Help Enforce Legal and Policy Frameworks
Outside of Western Europe, bats have few legal protections and are classified as vermin in some countries. BCI will build public understanding and support for bats and work to create greater regulatory and legal safeguards in the places we work, with the long-term goal of creating an international bat conservation treaty.
9. Help Develop and Perfect Important Technologies
BCI will help identify needed technologies and work with the scientific community and the nonprofit and for-profit sectors to develop and perfect them. These would include GPS transmitters to track small insectivorous bats across large landscapes or in migration; perfection of acoustic bat deterrents for wind turbines; and consumer-friendly bat detection and identification devices.
10. Invest in Tomorrow’s Conservation Leadership
One of BCI’s greatest impacts has been its support of promising students and young scientists who have since emerged as leaders in the study and conservation of bats. BCI will expand its scholarship program and launch new initiatives to create and support a new generation of talented young researchers and conservationists dedicated to the lasting survival of the world’s 1300+ species of bats.
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