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UNEP Highlights Study on the Role of Bats in Transitioning to a Green Economy

5 April 2012:  The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has highlighted a new study on how Mexican bats with Brazilian roots are boosting the US cotton industry. The study was published in the journal "Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment," and was co-authored by Rodrigo Medellin, Ambassador of the Year of the Bat and Scientific Councillor to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS).

UNEP notes the importance of bat conservation, as supporting ecosystem services are critical to a transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient green economy, one of the themes of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20).

According to the study, in the summer the Brazilian free-tailed bat migrates from its habitat in central Mexico to breeding grounds in the north of the country and south western areas of the US, where it feeds on moths and other agricultural pests. According to the study, the natural pest control that bats provide has an economic value of US$740,000. The study takes into account the value of cotton crops that would have been lost in the absence of bats and cost savings made through the reduced use of pesticides.

According to Medellin, it is important to conserve bat habitats worldwide for the sake of their economic benefits alone. He also highlights that the CMS-backed Year of the Bat 2011-12 is an essential tool to convey the value of ecological services bats provide to human economies and the health of ecosystems. [UNEP Press Release]