Media & Education
Volume 36, Issue 1, 2017
Crafting a new standard
By Colleen Beaty, Wildlife Habitat Council and Katie Jepson, BCI Communications Associate.
Newly created Conservation Certification recognizes meaningful wildlife habitat management and conservation education programs
In 2015, Bat Conservation International and other stakeholders advised Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) in the development of a standard by which bat conservation and other conservation activities can be recognized on corporate lands. The resultant accreditation, Conservation Certification, recognizes meaningful wildlife habitat management and conservation education programs through objective third-party evaluation.
“The bat conservation challenge is so great. It is critical for corporations to continue to create meaningful conservation programs in order to meet our common goal of functioning ecosystems and a healthier planet,” said Margaret O’Gorman, President, WHC. “Conservation Certification strives to drive change over time, with a goal to facilitate growth in bat conservation projects and heighten awareness of the value of such activities.”
“Bat Conservation International is very pleased to see the Wildlife Habitat Council launch its new Conservation Certification program,” said Dave Waldien, BCI’s Senior Director of Global Conservation. “As evidenced by the success of its previous certification programs, the new standard’s potential is great, as it can motivate the corporate sector to achieve significant bat conservation and provide a mechanism to certify the achievements while recognizing exemplary projects.”
A third-party certification, such as WHC Conservation Certification, is invaluable for bat conservation. It represents a joint effort across many peers who come together to provide objective guidance for corporate efforts in wildlife conservation.
As stated on WHC’s website (wildlifehc.org), “The new standard is built on best practices of global recognition programs, reflects contemporary conservation efforts and aligns the collective works of corporate conservation programs with the future of biodiversity across the globe.” WHC President Margaret O’Gorman discussed the new standard in a series of blog posts, stating that WHC Conservation Certification provides applicants with “a consistent framework that collects data across 25 possible project units,” including projects for bats, “reporting the acts, the objectives, the people and the purpose of the project.”
Common projects submitted under the Bats Project category include bat houses, protection and monitoring of bat hibernacula and bat-friendly plantings, and are associated with habitat types such as caves and mines, grasslands, deserts and forests. Although any bat species may be targeted, common target species include big brown bats, little brown bats and Indiana bats. Individual projects are scored based on criteria such as appropriate project design and management practices for the target species, monitoring and evaluation of the project and alignment with regional conservation priorities. Currently, there are over 160 WHC-certified bat conservation programs managed by corporations around the world.
In addition to recognition through Conservation Certification, exemplary projects in each of the themes were honored at the 2016 WHC Conservation Conference in Baltimore, Maryland, Nov. 2 and 3. To win the Bats Project Award, a project must be among the highest-scoring projects in the Bats theme, must demonstrate adequate monitoring of the targeted bat species and at least one associated factor (e.g. food sources), and should evaluate the results of monitoring to develop next steps for the project.
The 2016 Bats Project Award was awarded to DTE Energy’s Muskegon Service Center in Muskegon, Michigan, for its Bat House Project. The other two nominees for this award were the Bat Box Project at DTE Energy’s Belle River Mills Compressor Station in China, Michigan, and the Bat Houses project at Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc.’s Toyota Motor Manufacturing, West Virginia Inc. in Buffalo, West Virginia.
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