Workshop on bat research and conservation and publication of information leaflet on bat conservation in Belarus, 2012-2014

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In 2010 about 20 people had worked on bats in Belarus, with only 5 specialists conducting systematic studies. Most of their work concentrated on hibernacula and was done on a regional basis. About the distribution and habitat use of bats in summer little was known. For the conservation of bats in Belarus and abroad it is important to learn more about the Belarusian bat populations, especially in the light of the fast changes in land use. These changes may be detrimental to bats, but bats may also profit from them. An example of the latter case is the process of FSC certification of Belarusian Forestry. This implies that the foresters take the well-being of wildlife into account in their management and exploitation of the forests. Doing this is only possible when you know what you have. For Belarus this means that more surveys must be carried out and more people should be involved in a bat research and conservation.

The project as a whole had three goals:

1) involve more people, especially young biologists, in bat research and bat conservation;

2) improve the collaboration between Belarusian bat workers and bat workers in other parts of Europe;

3) increase the awareness among foresters about bats and their requirements in forests.

To achieve these goals we carried out the following activities:

• We gave a seminar and a workshop about bats and bat research in summer 2012. The seminar gave a general introduction about bats, their habitat use and survey techniques. During the workshop the participants practised the techniques in the field. The seminar and workshop were given by bat experts from Ukraine, the Netherlands and Belarus. Participants were professionals and students in biology and forestry.

• We gave several bat detectors to the Belarusian bat workers.

• We produced a leaflet and a booklet about bats and forest management in Russian

• We generated publicity about bats and their conservation in Belarus

The activities were organised in collaboration with APB BirdLife Belarus and the National Academy of Science of Belarus. The production of a leaflet and a booklet about bats and forest management was financed by EUROBATS. The leaflet is actually a translation of the EUROBATS leaflet about bats and forestry. The text was also a bit modified to the Belarusian situation to make it fit better with the local species composition and forestry practices. The translated leaflet is available on the website of the Belarusian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection and the EUROBATS website.

One of the follow-up activities of the workshop and seminar was the production of a booklet in Russian "Protection and maintenance of bat populations: strategy of forest management", available on the EUROBATS website. 

The booklet is a translation of the Dutch booklet ‘Vleermuizen, bomen en bos’ (Bats, trees and forest). The text of this booklet was first updated with new knowledge about bats and forestry and then translated into Russian. The Belarusian translators also modified the text, so that it fits better with the situation of the bats and the forestry practices in Belarus. This booklet will be disseminated among foresters by the Belarusian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection. The Bat working group of APB BirdLife Belarus will use the booklet in their conservation work and education program.