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Roosting bats, nesting birds and tree works

tree survey

Tree survey

You’ve had your tree survey done. You’ve got permission from the Council to prune or remove trees. Nothing to stop you getting on with the job now, surely?

Your tree survey will consider the impact any tree works will have upon the tree, but have you considered the wide range of other living organisms they are host to? Failure to do so could land you in court.

The two main wildlife considerations when carrying out tree work are nesting birds and roosting bats. Both are afforded legal protection within the range of current wildlife legislation. You need to know what constraints this may place upon you and what you need to do.

For nesting birds, it is an offence to (recklessly or deliberately) damage or even disturb an active nest. So what can you do?

  • Avoid work during the main nesting season, March to August inclusive, as your chances of disturbing active nests are much lower during the autumn and winter period (though birds can nest outside of this season too).
  • Before carrying out any tree work you need to carry out a visual check for active nests, particularly during the main nesting season if you can’t avoid it. This should ideally be undertaken by a trained ecologist.
  • If you find a nest in use, with eggs or young in it, you need to give it a wide berth and avoid working nearby. If the branch or tree you want to remove holds the nest, you must wait until the young have left the nest before carrying out the work.

For bats, it is an offence to harm or kill bats, or disturb their roosts, even accidentally, if it is considered that bats may be present. So what can you do?

  • Bats use a range of features in trees for roosting, including cracks, splits, cavities and dense ivy. The presence of some of these features may be the very reason you are carrying out the work. It is recommended that trees are assessed by a trained ecologist before works take place.
  • If trees are considered to have potential bat roost features, these should be examined by a bat licensed ecologist prior to carrying out any work. The ecologist will advise what work can take place, or if a licence must be applied for.

The presence of nesting birds or roosting bats may delay and add cost to your tree work. However, these factors may be trivial in comparison with the delays and expense resulting from a prosecution. Planning ahead can help minimise delays. It will ensure work is timed to avoid the most sensitive periods, and allow time for all checks to be carried out.

Get in touch

agb Environmental can help with your tree surveys. Whether for development or risk management, and ensure you meet all your legal obligations for wildlife. Our in-house team of ecologists can advise on all nesting bird and bat issues. If you want to make sure you everything will be covered, call Richard Parmee on 01638 663226.

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