An essential part of the project is the construction of artificial shelters for bats in the forest. These serve as roosts for species foraging among trees, for which it is increasingly difficult to find safe shelter in buildings used by humans. Living in the forest, they do not waste energy on night flights, avoid collisions with cars and attacks by predators, and are not disturbed by artificial lighting. When they live away from human settlements, no one is bothered by their neighbourhood.
In southern Poland, special towers will be built, designed mainly as maternity roosts for Lesser Horseshoe Bat and Geofroy’s Bat. They will also provide wintering opportunities for cold-hardy species such as Noctules and Barbastelles. In the vicinity of the towers, we will place smaller structures (bat huts), to serve as temporary shelters for horseshoe bats. Their construction will also allow them to be inhabited by breeding colonies of Noctules, Barbastelles or Pippistrelles. Sites for the first two towers and 20 huts have been designated in 2022. Construction of the towers is planned for the second half of 2023, while the first huts, or more precisely their concrete skeletons, have just been installed in the forest districts of Zdroje (in the Natura 2000 area PLH020004 Góry Stołowe) and Bardo (PLH020096 Góry Złote).
The huts made of concrete rings will eventually (already in spring) be covered with a wooden façade starting at a level above the expected extent of the snow cover. The huts will be topped by a sloping roof, so that the structure resembles a large beehive. Underneath the wooden shell are spaces for crevice-dwelling bats. Special window will allow free access for the Horseshoe bats, which cannot squeeze through crevices. It is for them that the entire interior of the huts will be prepared – a central room and a small attic. All entrances will be protected against predators. These newly constructed facilities have been designed within the framework of LIFE+ Horseshoe Towers project. We are applying many of our own solutions to improve conditions in existing roosts or to adapt unused sites for bats. We know from this previous experience that it can take a long time, sometimes even many seasons, for bats to settle in prepared shelters. We hope, however, that by using specially developed baiting methods, this time it will happen much more quickly. We will monitor the situation and report on the effects.