Bats help control the insect population like natural insecticides , Source: Peter Neumann / Unsplash

Bats in Brussels: a late summer festival about biodiversity

Bats in Brussels: a late summer festival about biodiversity

The Belgian capital is home to around 20 species of bats, who mainly feed on insects and help keep local biodiversity

The Brussels bat festival is ready to kick off on 20 August. The event will last until 3 September and citizens of the Belgian capital will have the chance to familiarise themselves with the nocturnal mammals, as well as their importance to the local ecosystem.

The event is organised by Bruxelles-Environnement, with the help of the non-governmental environmental organisation Natagora and will feature documentaries, family entertainment and guided tours of the bat protection facilities in the city.

The festival will mark the 26th European Bat Night on 27 August and all events will be free.

Citizens can also help protect local biodiversity

Brussels is home to around 20 different species of bats, from ones that fit in a matchbox to the noctule, that has a wingspan of 45 centimetres. Bats are also extremely vital to the city’s ecosystem, as they feed on insects and some species are able to eat half their weight in insects every night.

However, since the 1950s their population has been in decline due to humans suppressing their living environment, light pollution and the massive use of insecticides, reducing food supply.

Bruxelles-Environnement and Natagora have been implementing different measures to help stabilise the species population. These include underground bat habitats, that are inaccessible to humans and maintaining old trees that have a lot of nooks and cavities, perfect places for resting bats.

Additionally, the organisations have also lobbied successfully for installing LEDs in the Sonian Forest in the south of the Belgian capital. This is because LEDs are less disturbing to wildlife compared to traditional street lights.

In a joint statement, the organisations point out that every citizen can help protect the bat population by protecting existing natural shelters and illuminating their own gardens less at night. Additionally, they can avoid the use of pesticides and place artificial shelters if they want to go the extra mile.

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