Bat Conservation Ireland was officially launched at Avondale House, Rathdrum, in June 2004 by Dr Kate McAney and Brian Keeley. In 2004, Bat Conservation Ireland took on its first project role in administering the Car-Based Bat Monitoring Scheme which was, in that year, funded jointly by The Heritage Council and National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). Since 2004, in addition to managing the Car-Based Bat Monitoring Scheme, BCIreland also carried out pilot monitoring projects for Daubenton’s bats and brown long-eared bats, each of which were developed into national monitoring schemes for these species. In 2013 BCIreland was successful in its tender to manage the Lesser Horseshoe Bat Monitoring Scheme. Between these four schemes, BCIreland now monitors a total of six of Ireland’s nine resident bat species.
BCIreland sought and received funding for the development of a MySQL internet-based database in 2004 which is modelled on the NBN gateway (UK) and compatible with Recorder 6. The database was developed specifically for bat records and to allow individuals with specific permissions to input data remotely. The database was further modified in following years, in consultation with the NPWS. The database has been populated with bat records from Ireland’s leading bat consultants, as well as all the data from bat monitoring schemes managed by BCIreland. By December 2010 over 17,000 records had been entered to the database.
The BATLAS 2010 all-island survey was conducted during two field season (2008 and 2009) to ascertain the distribution of four targeted bat species: common pipistrelle, soprano pipistrelle, Daubenton’s bat and Leisler’s bat. A systematic survey of 10km squares across the island mapped the distribution of the four species and collected data on the remaining bat species, where recorded.
In 2011 BCIreland commissioned the Centre for Irish Bat Research (CIBR) to investigate the landscape conservation needs of Irish bat species. This project, using Bat Conservation Ireland’s existing database of records (2000-2009) including the data from two of the monitoring schemes, analysed habitat and landscape associations and identified the geographical areas that are suitable for individual species. The associations that result in these patterns were summarized.
In 2013 BCIreland launched a set of guidelines for carrying out surveys for bats at proposed windfarms, following extensive consultation with stakeholders in the wind energy industry. Also in 2013 BCIreland set in motion the steps necessary to sign up to the Governance Code for Charities.
In 2014 BCIreland published its first book, co-authored by Niamh Roche, Tina Aughney, Ferdia Marnell and Mathieu Lundy Irish Bats in the 21st Century. This book synthesises much of the data collected for the past 10-15 years by bat workers across Ireland and gives a detailed breakdown of all bat species that have been recorded here to date.
In 2021 Bat Conservation Ireland, in partnership with the National Biodiversity and Data Centre published the first field bat identification guide in book format – Identification Guide to Irish Bats. The production of this book was possible with the kind support of funding received from The Community Foundation for Ireland.