About Us

The Sussex Bat Group was formed in 1984 to help conserve bats in East and West Sussex. The Group is a registered charity made up of volunteers who share a passion for bats. We are affiliated with the Bat Conservation Trust. Bats are facing serious population declines across the UK. There is a bat group in nearly every county working to help reverse this decline.

The aims of the Sussex Bat Group are to:

  • Help conserve bats and their habitat.

  • Raise awareness of bats and their conservation.

These aims are achieved by:

  • Recording and monitoring bat populations in Sussex.

  • Assisting Natural England with roost visits where threats to bats may exist.

  • Carrying out conservation projects such as bat box schemes, improving roost sites or opening and protecting potential sites.

  • Organising talks and educational events throughout the year.

  • Providing a care and rescue service for sick and injured bats, with the back up of permanent bat hospitals.

  • Producing a regular newsletter - The Belfry

PLEASE NOTE: The Sussex Bat Group does not undertake surveys for commercial purposes or to object to planning applications.

SUSSEX BAT APPEAL

Roosting greater horseshoe bat

During the last century, greater horseshoe bat numbers fell by over 90% in Britain, by some estimates, and the species became confined to parts of Wales and south-west England. Today, however, there is some much-needed good news. The population is showing signs of recovery, with small colonies now found outside of this core area. This includes one pioneer breeding colony recently discovered in an old stable block in Sussex − a sign of a possible eastward spread. For this reason, it is a site we must protect.

Vincent Wildlife Trust, Sussex Bat Group and others are working hard to safeguard this rare bat species by purchasing and restoring a roost site in Sussex.

But we need your help.

We have been given a window of opportunity to raise the purchase price, otherwise the building will be placed for sale on the open market. Please help us by donating now – any amount will be much appreciated and will help us towards our £350,000 goal.

As well as monies from the Sussex Bat Group’s own reserves, we’ve received the very generous help of our local bat groups, Surrey, Kent and Hampshire, plus additional, fantastic support from PTES, group members, local ecology companies and Southwood Foundation. Altogether, so far, we have already raised just slightly in excess of £50k. This was our target for the deposit on the building so we can now prepare to exchange contracts.

We now have nine months to raise the balance of £150k and we are launching a major fundraising campaign in conjunction. Once the purchase is completed, we then hope to progress to raise further funds for the necessary restoration and improvement of the roost building. This is estimated to be in the region of £150K.

You can donate here or by sending a cheque, payable to Vincent Wildlife Trust, to:

Sussex Bat Appeal, 3-4 Bronsil Courtyard Eastnor, Ledbury, Herefordshire HR8 1EP.

We are very grateful to those of you who have already contributed.

Thank you so much.

Press Release: Rare bats settle 100km east, attracted by fine food and a property with potential

An urgent appeal has been launched to help save the home of a pioneering breeding colony of greater horseshoe bats recently discovered in West Sussex. The site, currently up for sale, is some 100km east of the bats’ current stronghold in Devon and Dorset — an enormously encouraging sign for a bat that suffered an estimated 90% decline in Britain in the 20th century.

“With help, this small but hugely significant colony of greater horseshoe bats could become a real biodiversity success story — a species on the road to recovery and now returning to one of its former haunts after an absence ofmore than a century,” said Dr Lucy Rogers, CEO with wildlife charity Vincent Wildlife Trust. The Sussex Bat Appeal has been launched by Vincent Wildlife Trust and Sussex Bat Group to buy the derelict stableblock being used by the bats before it is placed on the open market. The two organisations have been given nine months by the owners to raise the purchase price. £200,000 will secure ownership of the stable block and a further £150,000 will fund the renovation work and the building enhancements needed to allow the bat colony to expand.

“Once the site is enhanced for the bats, we would expect over time to see good levels of survival and reproductive success, resulting in a growing, thriving maternity colony. It is also hoped that this site will act as a honeypot, attracting further pioneers to this area,” said Dr Henry Schofield, Head of Conservation for the Trust. Vincent Wildlife Trust currently looks after the roost sites of some 50% of Britain’s greater horseshoe bat population and has been instrumental in driving the recovery of this bat species, helped too by legal protection given to all bat species in 1981.

The greater horseshoe bat is one of the largest bats found in Britain and one of the easier bats to identify, with its horseshoe-shaped ‘nose’ and a preference to dangle upside down from a beam or ceiling, held on by its spindly legs and cloaked with its wings when asleep. Other than its tiny cousin, the lesser horseshoe bat, no other British bat hangs in this way. By the latter half of the 20th century, the species was heading for possible extinction, following a loss of insect-rich pasture and semi-natural woodlands over which to feed, a lack of suitable, undisturbed sites for breeding and hibernation, and the use of now-banned timber treatment chemicals.

Until now, the greater horseshoe bat has been largely confined to south-west England and parts of Wales. From a 20th century low of some 4,000, the current estimated population is around 13,000 (to put this in context, there is an estimated three million pipistrelles — our most common bat). This rise in its population may have helped fuel this eastward quest to plant new roots in an old home. The West Sussex site will be owned by Vincent Wildlife Trust as a bat roost in perpetuity. It will be managed by the Trust in conjunction with the Sussex Bat Group. “Right now, this is probably the most important greater horseshoe bat roost site in Britain and the most significant find since the group was formed in 1984. It was discovered by a member of Sussex Bat Group in 2019 and we are determined to raise the funds needed to secure the building for this vitally important bat colony.

As well as wardening and managing the site, there will also be opportunities for volunteers to help with the monitoring of the bats,” said Sheila Wright, Secretary to the Sussex Bat Group. More information about greater horseshoe bats, the Sussex Bat Appeal and ways to donate can be found at www.vwt.org.uk/sussex-bat-appeal