As a professional tree work contractor, Four Seasons Tree Care takes its responsibilities to wildlife and ecology seriously. Bats are a protected species in the UK and we need to be mindful of how the law affects tree work when bats may be present.
Trees form an essential part of an often complex ecosystem that provides a variety of habitats for a range of different wildlife species, including bats. Of the sixteen bat species in the UK, thirteen are known to roost in trees. Some bat species rely exclusively on trees for roost sites, whilst others only use them for part of the year.
All bats forage in woodland and along woodland edges and any tree can be used as a bat roost, as long as it provides shelter, e.g. in the form of splits, cracks, holes and cavities in the trunk and branches, loose bark and ivy cover. Roosts can be at any height in the tree, although upper trunk and branches are probably more common.
With that in mind, work on any trees to be felled or in need of tree surgery, should be carried out by a professional tree care company who can assess the likelihood of bats being present. Our staff have knowledge and training to help identify where bats may be present in trees. We can then decide whether any work can be done in a way that avoids impacting the bats.
During the winter months bats will generally be hibernating, so the best time of year to carry out work on trees with potential bat roosts is spring (mid-March to end of April), after the young are weaned and independent, or autumn (September to late October), before hibernation. However, these times are very climate related and can vary from year to year.
If no bats are found, yet possible roost places have been identified, the best practice would be to lower the branches or trunk with possible roost cavities to the ground by rope and leave for 48 hours for any bat to escape, before carefully opening up the cavities.
If bats are discovered when branches are removed or trees felled (particularly in winter), work must stop immediately and the appropriate professional bodies should be contacted. Advice will then be given on how to proceed.
Four Seasons Tree Care have developed particular skills in maintaining trees to increase their potential for hosting bats and other wildlife on sites where this is appropriate. So, if you think you may have bats on your property and also need to get some tree work done we would be very pleased to advise on the best way forward.
Interesting Fact: Bats are more closely related to humans than they are to mice!