Meet The Team

Ruth Testa

Ruth Testa – Project Manager


I gained an MSc in Biodiversity and Conservation in 2007, and after a period discovering the highlights of South East Asia and Australia, started my career within the Wildlife Trusts. I spent 9 years working for Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust in reserve management and community engagement roles, before joining the bat project team as Project Manager in 2016.

As a newcomer to Devon, I am enjoying getting to know the local wildlife and landscapes of the county. Working on the project will continue my involvement with bats, as I have been an active member of Nottinghamshire Bat Group for the last few years most recently working on their ‘Echolocation Location’ project mapping the distribution of bats within the county.

Project Manager Role

As project manager my main activities are;

  • coordinating the partnership steering group
  • managing the team
  • keeping the project on track to meet its annual targets
  • ensuring bat data is rigorously analysed and verified

You can get in touch using our contact page.


Helen Parr

Helen Parr – Community Engagement Officer

My role on the team is Community Engagement Officer.


I’ve been involved in conservation for over 20 years. I studied for a B.A .in Geography followed by a M.Sc. in Land Resource Management.  After this I worked for many years in woodland management and environmental education.

Since moving to Devon in 1999, I’ve enjoyed getting to know the amazing natural diversity found in the county. Working on the Bat Project is a great way to get to know even more of the county whilst doing the work I love.

Bat project

In my current role I work with schools and communities to raise the profile of greater horseshoe bats and show people how they can get involved. In addition I coordinate the website and social media for the project. Ensuring that the annual Devon Bat Survey runs smoothly is another important aspect of my work.

If you’d like to find out more, do get in touch using our contact page.

Anna David

Anna David – Advisory Officer

I work as an Advisory Officer at the Bat Project.


I gained an M.Sc. in Conservation and Land Management from Bangor University in 2010. Since then I have been working in the field of landscape-scale ecology for Wildlife Trusts across the country on various projects. These range from conservation land management advice and habitat restoration to extensive water vole monitoring.

I grew up in North Cornwall but have lived ‘over the border’ in South Devon since 2015 after having completed a long distance cycle ride from Romania to Spain the previous summer.

Current role

As an advisory officer I work with landowners to improve habitats for bats across the landscape in the following project areas;

  • Avon Valley/Harbertonford
  • Dartmouth
  • Berry Head
  • Buckfastleigh
  • Gunnislake

If you are a landowner in one of these areas and would like to find out more, please contact me via our contact page.

Mike Symes

Mike Symes – Advisory Officer

I work as an Advisory Officer on the bat project.


I have worked for the Devon Wildlife Trust for over ten years. During this time I have;

  • carried out botanical surveys for the Devon Biodiversity Records Centre
  • undertaken protected species work for the Trust’s ecological consultancy
  • given land management advice to farmers in the Culm grasslands of north-west Devon

I am an experienced bat worker, having completed numerous surveys and roost visits. In 2013 I obtained my Natural England licence.

I’ve lived in Devon all of my life, and have yet to find a reason to move away from such a wildlife-rich county!

Advisory officer role

As one of the two Advisory Officers at the Bat Project, I work with landowners to improve habitats for bats across the landscape. I cover the following project areas; Braunton, Southleigh, Branscombe, Chudleigh and Bovey Tracey.

If you are a landowner in one of these areas and would like to find out more, please get in touch using our contact page.

Lizzy Mooney

Lizzy Mooney – Community Engagement Contractor

I work alongside Helen Parr to support the community engagement work of the project.

My main roles are coordinating volunteer activity, and organising events (in particular our annual September Bat festival).

If you’d like to find out more, do get in touch using our contact page.


Domhnall Finch

Domhnall Finch – University of Sussex PhD student

PhD research

I work alongside the team as part of my research into greater horseshoe bats and the habitats they use. With the help of project volunteers, I run detailed research surveys each summer in different parts of the county. The results should give us valuable information about how important countryside features such as Devon’s hedgerows, tree-lines and rivers are for greater horseshoe bats. I was initially based at the University of Exeter, and although I am now at Sussex University, I will be continuing my Devon research into greater horseshoe bats.


PhD aims

The aim of my PhD is to examine how landscape scale management may impact the greater horseshoe bats, particularly the effects of urbanisation and agricultural practices on their prey items and connectivity within the landscape. This will help us to learn about how best to conserve this rare bat species in the future.



Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat Project