MP Helen Hayes has been awarded Best Parliamentary Champion for her work during 2019 as the common pipistrelle species champion

Best Parliamentary Champion 2019 - Helen Hayes MP

The award comes from the Bat Conservation Trust who say that when Helen, Labour MP for Dulwich and West Norwood, was offered the role of species champion for the common pipistrelle in February 2017, she jumped at the chance. “Her enthusiasm for the role has grown over the last two and a half years” say the Trust.

“During 2019 Helen has raised awareness of the common pipistrelle through bat walks, sharing information on social media and visiting the Bat Conservation Trust offices where she met everyone including all of the National Bat Helpline team. “Helen has also raised some very pertinent written questions with the government in relation to species conservation and wider environmental protection.

“She sponsored a special House of Commons exhibit in July 2019 for the collaborative Biodiversity in Planning project which involves 19 organisations including most of the Rethink Nature partners. “The exhibit was visited by a number of other species champions. “Helen gave two talks at the exhibit in which she described the alarming trends in loss of species in the last 40 years and raised the importance of greater inclusion of biodiversity in the planning system.

“The common pipistrelle is widespread although it is known to have suffered significant population declines over the last century. “Common pipistrelles are frequently seen in people’s gardens and is the species most often found roosting in buildings which can bring it into the front line of human-wildlife conflict. “Despite this, we have some indications that a combination of legislation and education has assisted in the partial recovery of this species.

“Common pipistrelles are also valuable in allowing people living in both urban and rural settings to engage positively with species conservation. “Helen’s constituents live in an urban setting with a significant number of green spaces such as Sydenham Hill Woods and West Norwood Cemetery.

“Many of them are unaware of how much wildlife there is in these spaces and the opportunity that engaging with wildlife offers in terms of spending more time outdoors with its known health and well-being benefits. Because common pipistrelles can be found living and flying so closely to people, they provide a gateway to/starting point for appreciation of broader species conservation.

“In order to raise awareness of common pipistrelles in Dulwich and West Norwood, Helen has come along to bat walks and has asked BCT to organise some walks for her constituents – a great way for larger numbers of people to re-connect with wildlife.

“The fact that she has managed to fit so much into her role as species champion as well as representing a very busy and multi-ethnic inner city constituency is a testament to her commitment to the importance of species conservation” the Trust add. (Source: Bat Conservation Trust).

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