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Home arrow Environment arrow Bats in the Anthropocene: Conservation of Bats in a Changing World

Commonalities of Existing Networks

Origins and Activities

Most of the networks were founded as a response to the prevalence and intensity of threats to bat populations, lack of scientific knowledge about bats to support conservation action and changes to public policy, and to combat the contribution of public antipathy or ignorance to bat conservation issues. The common overarching goal in all cases is to halt declines and support sustainable populations. To achieve this goal, common foci or organizational themes are research, education/outreach, and conservation. In regions with few bat researchers, or high variance in expertise, research also encompasses building local academic and sometimes volunteer capacity to implement research, typically through workshops and development and sharing of guidance documents (e.g., CCINSA, RELCOM, SEABCRU, BatLife Europe, EUROBATS).

Most networks see themselves as providing a regional organizational framework, guiding or coordinating local activities, and facilitating transboundary communication and capacity building. They aim to realize broader-scale impacts and identify priorities for action at larger scales (NABCA, SEABCRU, RELCOM, BatLife Europe, EUROBATS). Several networks are also instigating, or already implementing, region-wide initiatives, with particular focus on surveying and monitoring populations (BCT, NABCA, RELCOM, SEABCRU, BatLife Europe), data collation and storage (SEABCRU, BatLife Europe, BCT), and evaluation and priority-setting of species, habitats, and threats (all).

Several networks play a direct role in policy development and implementation. In some cases, individuals or groups representing the network act as advisors to governments, in others the network directly lobbies decision makers. Because of its conspicuous foundation in published science and other scientific activities, the ABS has had a strong advisory role at all levels of Government in Australia, having major input into guidance notes (the information used to assess major development proposals by Government), producing action plans and associated recommendations for Conservation status listing, and survey guidelines for threatened listed species, and making submissions to parliamentary inquiries. As a member of the Wildlife and Countryside Link, BCT regularly contributes to joint responses on bat-relevant issues to government bodies, while EUROBATS is a network of parties to an agreement directly influencing conservation policy, as it pertains to bats, in member states. Networks may also take a more direct lobbying approach. CCINSA has been working for years to move India's fruit bats from Schedule V of the Wildlife Act of India 1972, which defines them as vermin that can be exterminated without legal penalty. Two threatened species were afforded protection (moved to Schedule I), but the influence of the agricultural lobby has kept the remaining 12 species on Schedule V (Singaravelan et al. 2009). RELCOM has been lobbying for the creation and acquisition of legal status of Areas and Sites of Importance for the Conservation of Bats across Latin America (see Sect. 17.4.1) and promoting the implementation of bat conservation action plans.

 
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