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The South African Bat Assessment Association
The South African Bat Assessment Association (SABAA) is a membership based non-government organization (NGO), headed up by a nine-person panel consisting of specialist consultants, academics, related NGO representatives, regulatory authorities and an industry representative.
The aims of the association are:
- To ensure that any development in South Africa proceeds with the least possible impact on bats to preserve the natural dynamics of bat populations so the country will continue to benefit from the essential ecosystem services they provide.
- To ensure high standards of bat surveys in South Africa by facilitating interaction with practitioners and academics to discuss issues around accurate surveys, monitoring, and mitigation measures.
- To review guidelines, policies, reports, and training material related to bats and development, and to set standards as necessary.
- To foster awareness and understanding of bats and to promote the conservation of bats by engaging with private developers, government agencies and departments, non-governmental organisations, and private individuals.
- To provide a discussion platform for the wider bat community to engage in issues around bat surveys and bat conservation and to motivate for research into impacts of developments on bats and potential mitigations.
- To offer mediation or arbitration in cases of conflict between government, developers, environment assessment practitioners, bat specialists, and conservationists.
The SABAAP is currently unfunded and the panellists give their time voluntarily and cover all of their own costs as they are all committed to conserving bats.
History of SABAA
The South African Bat Assessment Advisory Panel (SABAAP) was formed in May 2013 after a meeting in Johannesburg of bat academics, conservationists, and environmental impact assessors. It was established in response to a growing concern that environmental impact assessments are often incomplete or do not accurately assess the true situation of bat numbers and their impact on the environment. Its role was to act as a monitoring and advisory panel for bat assessments in South Africa and to advise industry, specialists, and regulatory authorities.
However in the years following the inception of SABAAP it became clear that the larger group of bat specialists working in South Africa needed to be involved in the discussions involving the theory and practise of bat surveying and monitoring in South Africa. The South African Bat Assessment Association was thus formed to provide a platform for all bat specialists to interact and share their views.