“Inevitable” is an apt way to describe why BCI has prioritized working with island bats around the world. With the conservation of globally endangered bats identified as one of our top priorities in our 2013–2018 Strategic Plan, many island bats naturally flew to the top of a list of species most in need of our help. Of the 78 bat species currently recognized as endangered or critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, 68 percent are found on islands. Of all the regions around the world, the islands of the Indo-Pacific region are home to the majority of them and are highlighted in this edition.
But what does effective and sustainable conservation look like for endangered island bats?
This is an exceptionally difficult question, and our attempt to answer it must take into account not only the ecological needs of individual species, but also the needs of the communities that call these islands home. The threats that many island bats face are unique to each species and each island. While our tactics and strategies must differ by species, our fundamental philosophy for achieving sustainable conservation is built upon on a collaborative approach that brings diverse stakeholders together to invest in and support local leadership. Just as each bat species faces a unique set of circumstances, so do many of the local island communities. For conservation action to truly work at a local island level, conservation strategies need to be culturally appropriate and inclusive—something BCI is working hard to achieve.
Although we continue to work as leaders and collaborators in global bat conservation, BCI recognizes that we do not have the capacity or resources to support or even engage on every priority bat conservation issue. While in some ways this gap in our capacity adds to our burden and certainly to the urgency in our mission, I am heartened and believe that we, and the broader conservation community, have the collective skills, knowledge and power to make a difference. We are not alone in our mission; we have support and participation from the IUCN Bat Specialist Group, bat networks, conservationists, researchers, educators and the global conservation community, as well as many governments, members of the corporate sector and the public. Together, we can achieve significant and sustainable conservation through raising greater awareness, seizing conservation opportunities, and collaborating on and implementing effective strategies.
I hope this issue of Bats gives you a greater appreciation of the conservation challenges facing island bats and insights into our collaborative initiatives in the Indo-Pacific region. Meaningful bat conservation is within our collective grasp, and I look forward to seeing what we can achieve together.
Senior Director for Global Conservation