Light pollution is becoming an increasingly important problem that affects a large number of species. Many nocturnal animals are attracted to artificial lights, which confuses their orientation and often induces endless repetitive circling around light sources. Such behavioural changes can increase susceptibility to predators, affect reproduction, disrupt migration, disturb animal circadian rhythms and result in mortality due to collision or exhaustion. The effects of light pollution on biodiversity are still not widely understood, but studies have demonstrated negative effects on insects, bats, birds, turtles, amphibians and a number of other animals. While a lot of actions have focused on streetlights, problems associated with illuminated sites of cultural importance remain largely unaddressed. This issue represents a special challenge as such illumination typically comes from below and emits towards the sky, resulting in large bright areas in the nightscape. As a result, illuminated buildings or monuments are visible to terrestrial and aerial animals.
The overall objective of this Biodiversity project is to improve the conservation status and biodiversity of nocturnal animals at selected areas by reducing the negative effects of artificial lighting produced by the illumination of cultural heritage sites. The project also aims to draw up technical guidelines for energy-efficient and environmentally friendly illumination of cultural heritage sites and promote their use at national and EU level.
The project aims to design a light source which is specifically adjusted and blocks the light that would otherwise be emitted towards the sky. The light source will emit less light, have a blind adjusted to the shape of the building that will prevent light loss, and will be more energy efficient. The beneficiary plans to manufacture and test a prototype of this newly designed custom-made light source on selected churches. It will also monitor the impact of different light sources on the conservation status and biodiversity of two groups of nocturnal animals that are strongly affected by light pollution: bats and moths.
- The replacement of the lighting source on 26 churches with a nature-friendly and energy-efficient source;
- A 30% reduction in the electricity costs of lighting;
- An increased level of awareness of biodiversity and other problems associated with light pollution and a tangible demonstration of how to harmonise nature conservation and cultural heritage.