In 2012 volunteers of The Habitat Foundation trained 20 Belarusian biologists, foresters and students in bat research and conservation. Ten of them received bat detectors. Since then research on bats in Belarus intensified, resulting in locating new maternity colonies of bats. The national Red List of threatened mammals needed a revision.
During the Second phase we aim the same boost, but in research and conservation of the other mammal species. The Belarusian biologists came with the proposal for a follow-up of the workshop and extend it to research techniques for all mammal species. And, this time employees of National Parks, Reserves and other protected areas will also be involved.
Unique pristine nature
Belarus has large areas of pristine nature. 53 Belarusian protected areas are Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA); together they cover more than 10,000 km2. In these protected areas many threatened mammals live, e.g. bats, dormice, Siberian flying squirrel, mustelids. However, their biology, distribution and ecology are not well known, especially of the small and medium sized species.
To learn more about the trends and how the mammals use the habitats in these areas, modern field survey techniques have to be applied, as well as contemporary analytics that will benefit well informed conservation decisions. The Belarusian biologists are good but few are acquainted with modern survey techniques.
Together with the Belarusian Academy of Science a five day training will be given to employees from at least 10 KBAs, addressing:
- The use of modern survey techniques, like eDNA, camera traps, bat detectors, live traps, etc.;
- Survey setup, data standards and data analysis using new analytic software;
- Pros and cons of internet based biodiversity data portals;
- Assessment of the ecosystem services provided by (small) mammals and how this can be used for their conservation;
- The state of the art conservation strategies and methods for threatened mammals.
To be able to apply the techniques after the workshop equipment will be donated to the participants.
- Stronger positioning of mammal research and conservation in Belarusian nature areas.
- More knowledge on mammal distribution, ecology and habitat use resulting in better local conservation strategies.
- Understanding more about the relations between the Belarusian and the European mammal populations.
- Standardised data on mammals in pristine areas that can serve as reference for habitat management elsewhere in Europe.
- More data available via GBIF and for the European Mammal Atlas 2025;
- Improve the collaboration between European mammal specialists, bridging the gap between mammal specialists in the furthest corners of Europe and strengthening the long term protection of mammals.
- The Belarussian Academy of Sciences.
- The Bat working group of APB BirdLife Belarus.