In Central and Eastern Europe, nine bat species listed in the annexes of the EU Habitats Directive are threatened by deteriorating roost conditions, increasing distances from roost sites to feeding areas, landscape fragmentation and the disappearance of tree and shrub belts serving as flight routes, artificial lighting, and human disturbance. The lesser horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros) is a flagship species for the conservative of endangered bats and their habitats, as it occurs in all target countries and has a history of successful interventions, which are acceptable to the public.
The LIFE+ PODKOWIEC TOWERS project aims to improve the conservation status of nine endangered bat species in Central and Eastern Europe. The project team will implement actions to address the main threats to the breeding sites of these species in a holistic way, with a special focus on lesser horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros).
Specific objectives are:
- Securing and enriching sites of high importance to key bat species;
- Shifting from a reactive to a proactive approach in bat protection;
- Expanding institutional support for the conservation of bats.
This project will help implement the EU Habitats Directive, by improving environmental conditions for nine Annex II bat species.
- Improved maternity and winter roosts in 18 Natura 2000 sites in 4 countries;
- Creation of 36 new roosts and 10 new habitat features in Slovakia;
- Providing large replacement roosts and habitats near 10 of the most vulnerable roosts in Poland (10 towers, 100 bat huts, 5 hibernacula) – with two-thirds of these colonised within the project duration;
- Enhanced feeding habitats in 6 Natura 2000 sites in Poland and Slovakia (enhancing oak pasture woodland, and restoration/creation of water ponds: 3 in Poland and 10 in Slovakia); and
- Reduced human-bat conflicts in Poland, Slovakia, Romania and the Czech Republic.