The North American Bat Conservation Alliance (NABCA) is an informal alliance among federal, state, provincial, territorial, and local government agencies; regional bat working groups; non-government organizations; industry; individual scientists and biologists; and concerned members of the public interested in conservation of North America’s bats. The role of NABCA is to facilitate coordination and communication among parties interested in bat conservation by soliciting, compiling and sharing information relevant to bat conservation, and promoting cooperative activities.
Bats are among the most diverse groups of mammals in the world. Over 150 species are known from North America. Apart from their intrinsic value as a component of global biodiversity, bats provide many ecologically and economically important services. For example, most bats in North America eat insects, including many invasive species and agricultural pests. Other species of bats play a key role in pollinating flowers and dispersing seeds of numerous plant species. In addition, bats contribute to ecotourism, and research on bats has led to new insights in flight and navigation and disease ecology. Unfortunately, many species of bats in North America are now of conservation concern. Bats are facing a wide range of threats including loss of foraging and roosting habitats, human persecution, emerging infectious diseases such as White-nose Syndrome, and incidental human-caused mortality, especially due to collisions with wind turbines. As a result many species have declined dramatically in recent years, and several species are now considered at risk of extinction or extirpation in one or more countries in North America. Furthermore, the status of many other species is poorly known, and some others may also be threatened. Various efforts are already underway by government agencies, environmental non-government organizations, academia, industry and others within each of Mexico, the USA, and Canada to address some of these threats. For example, Mexico participates in the Latin American Network for the Conservation of Bats (RELCOM), which has developed a Strategy for the Conservation of Bats in Latin America and the Caribbean. The USA has developed A National Plan for Assisting States, Federal Agencies, and Tribes in Managing White-Nose Syndrome in Bats to provide the framework for a broad collaboration across agencies, institutions, and organizations to address all manner of actions related to White-nose Syndrome and conservation of affected bat species. Similarly, Canada has prepared A National Plan to Manage White Nose Syndrome in Bats in Canada and convened an inter-agency committee to develop and implement work plans to address priority actions. In addition, a number of regional and local working groups have been formed to address bat conservation needs in their respective regions. Various groups are working to develop recovery plans for federally listed endangered species and other working groups have been developed to address particular threats such as mortality from wind turbines. These efforts would benefit from improved coordination and cooperation among regions and countries for several reasons. Many of the threats are shared among regions, and strategies and approaches to address them in one area could be relevant elsewhere. Cooperative efforts would result in synergies and improved efficiencies to optimize conservation efforts. Furthermore, bats are highly mobile and travel freely across regional and national boundaries. Thus management efforts in all regions are needed to address their full life cycle conservation needs. Consequently, sharing resources and expertise among regions can lead to more efficient and effective conservation actions.
The North American Bat Conservation Alliance has been formed to facilitate communication, coordination and cooperation among all parties interested in bat conservation in Mexico, the United States, and Canada in their efforts to manage and conserve North American bat populations. The concept of NABCA has been developed over many years, and the proposed structure builds upon the strengths of various past efforts to organize bat conservation partnerships in North America.
The mission of the North American Bat Conservation Alliance is to promote the conservation of bats in North America by facilitating cooperative efforts; by compiling and sharing information relevant to bat conservation; and by elevating awareness of bats, for the benefits of bats, people, and their ecosystems.
NABCA is an informal alliance among any and all parties concerned about maintaining healthy bat populations, including federal, state/provincial and local government agencies, industries, non-governmental organizations, researchers, and concerned members of the public. It builds on the structure of existing regional and national bat working groups. NABCA is guided by a Steering Committee with support from a coordinator.
NABCA is not a formal membership organization; rather, it is envisioned as a structure to enhance the effectiveness of existing organizations by encouraging increased communication and cooperation among groups; by compiling and distributing information relevant to bat conservation; and by creating a cohesive continental voice to enhance support for bat conservation.
NABCA Steering Committee
NABCA is guided by a Steering Committee, chaired by one representative from each of Canada, the United States of America, and Mexico, with support from a coordinator.
Mandate: The role of the NABCA Steering Committee is to provide a continental forum for sharing information and perspectives among and within each of the three participating countries to enhance the effectiveness of bat conservation activities. To achieve this, the Committee, with support from the Coordinator, will promote regular dialog and discussion about bats; develop initiatives to solicit, compile and share information relevant to bat conservation on topics such as threats, conservation actions and knowledge gaps; and encourage cooperative efforts to implement conservation actions, to address knowledge gaps, and to increase public awareness of the value of bats.
Membership: The Steering Committee consists of 10-12 members, including 3 co-chairs.
- Co-chairs: The co-chairs include one representative from each of Canada, the United States of America, and Mexico. These shall be appointed by the respective wildlife agencies of each country, but may or may not be government employees.
- Working Group representatives: The Northeast Bat Working Group, the Southeastern Bat Diversity Network, the Midwest Bat Working Group, the Western Bat Working Group, the Program for Conservation of Mexican Bats, and Canada’s Interagency White Nose Syndrome Committee each appoint one representative.
- At-large members: The remaining members are selected by the co-chairs to provide additional perspectives and expertise related to bat conservation.
The Steering Committee must have at least two members (including the co-chairs) from each of the three countries. The executive or leadership of each Working Group are responsible for selecting and appointing their representatives. They are encouraged to review and reconfirm or else appoint a replacement at their general meetings each year. At-large members are appointed for two-year terms starting in October. They may be nominated by any interested persons and are selected by the co-chairs and working group representatives. They may be reappointed for multiple terms. Members are expected to provide regular input to the committee through participation in meetings, and through correspondence. Members who are consistently unable to attend meetings and do not provide input to the committee in other ways may be asked to step down by the Co-chairs. Members who wish to step down early shall endeavor to provide at least one (1) month notice to enable a replacement to be found. Meetings: The Steering Committee shall meet at least three times per year, either through teleconference, video-conference or in-person. A quorum of at least 50% of the current membership is needed to conduct formal business of the Alliance. In-person meetings should be planned to coincide with other meetings related to bats or bat conservation which would be attended by multiple members of the Committee, such as the North American Bat Research Symposium, annual White-nose Syndrome Workshop, or meetings of one or more of the bat working groups or other agency meetings. To facilitate participation by members who are unable to attend an in-person meeting, options for remote participation will be made available.
The Steering Committee is supported by a Coordinator whose role is to promote communication among Committee members and other participants in the Alliance and to assist in implementing NABCA initiatives. Specific tasks include:
- Arranging meetings of the Steering Committee;
- Maintaining records of Steering Committee meetings;
- Managing the NABCA website and other communications tools;
- Working with the Steering Committee members to engage the North American bat conservation community through NABCA;
- Implementing initiatives to gather, compile and disseminate information relevant to bat conservation.
The Steering Committee, with support from the coordinator, shall gather, compile, analyze and disseminate information relevant to bat conservation. These may include information on:
- Threats to bats;
- Conservation targets / goals;
- Conservation actions that can help to address threats and achieve goals;
- The apparent effectiveness of conservation actions;
- Gaps in knowledge of how to conserve bats that could be addressed through research or monitoring;
- Approaches for implementing research / monitoring;
- Resources that support implementation of conservation actions;
- Information on the relative priorities of threats, gaps and actions as perceived by the bat conservation community.
Information on all of these topics will be solicited from participants in the Alliance using various tools designed to encourage input from as many people as possible. The synthesized results will be disseminated back to the community through various media as appropriate, potentially including the NABCA website; websites of affiliated organizations; presentations at meetings; scientific publications; webinars; and active dialog. The Committee will ensure that all information is reviewed at least every five (5) years and updated as necessary, and that new information, including new developments on emerging threats, conservation actions, monitoring programs, or research results are disseminated as they become available.
NABCA shall maintain a website that will provide resources for bat conservation practitioners, including a description of the Alliance, a copy of the Charter and Terms of Reference, copies of all reports, summaries and other information compiled by the Alliance and links to websites of various organizations participating in the Alliance. To the extent possible, content will be made available in the three (3) official North American languages (English, Spanish and French), especially the home page, this Charter, and summary reports on threats, gaps and conservation actions. NABCA shall also support communication on all aspects of bat conservation through a variety of social media and other communications tools, as appropriate, including Facebook and Twitter. Updated version approved by Steering Committee: Feb 22, 2016
Download a PDF of the NABCA Charter.