LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s public lottery said on Wednesday it would provide 3.8 million pounds to support projects to allow bats to nest in churches without damaging the sometimes centuries-old buildings.
Bats, which have been protected by law in Britain since 1981, are increasingly using buildings such as churches for shelter as natural habitats are lost.
Some rare bat species are at risk of extinction without the churches' protection.
But while small groups may have little impact, large populations and their droppings can be unhygienic and damaging.
Julia Hammer, Joint Chief Executive of the Bat Conservation Trust said the “Bats and Churches” program is aimed at finding ways to stop the damage without stopping the bats.
The program will be funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund over five years.
"This is a splendid result for both congregations and bats, who have shared churches for centuries but not always happily," said Andrew Sells, chairman of Natural England, the government's adviser for the natural environment.
Reporting by Lea Dartenne; editing by Stephen Addison