Advisory Panels

A view of the Italian Garden at Mount Stewart
The Italian Garden at Mount Stewart, Northern Ireland National Trust Images / Andrew Butler

There are eight expert panels whose role it is to advise staff, and through the staff advise the Board of Trustees.

They complement the skills of staff on specific professional issues and act as advocates for the Trust externally within their disciplines. They also assist with policy development and advise on major acquisitions and projects of significance to their expertise.
Panel members build strong working relationships with the staff, by visiting sites and acting as a sounding board for ideas and new practices.
Our panels provide advice and support on a range of specialisms:


The Archaeology Panel provides an external reference point for the Trust advising on policy and practice affecting the conservation and management of the historic environment and archaeology. In particular, it advises on major projects and acquisitions, matters of scholarship, professional standards, government policy and legislation and other external influences. The Panel is also a focus for issues relating to Cultural World Heritage Sites.


The Architectural Panel advises on historic buildings and on design across the built and natural environment, including the consideration of architectural, building and landscape changes. Its recommendations are monitored by the Director of Conservation and Historic Buildings Director on behalf of the Director-General. Unlike other Panels, the Architectural Panel has the authority, delegated by the Director-General, to decide whether Trust approval should be given to proposals by third parties to make changes to properties over which it holds protective covenants.


The Arts Panel provides an external reference point for the Trust, advising staff and the Board of Trustees on the curatorship and conservation of historic properties (particularly houses with historic interiors and art collections) and their management, display and interpretation. It has close links with the Architectural Panel in giving advice on the architectural aspects of the curatorship of buildings and interiors, and with the Gardens and Parks Panel when advising on aspects concerning the authentic presentation of historic houses in their settings.


The Commercial Panel's function is to advise the Trust on its commercial activities ensuring that these support the Trust's strategy and protect and develop the Trust's brand.
The Panel also advises on the long-term development of the Trust's commercial activities in light of the Trust's strategy and the political, economic and social environment in which it operates. This is an advisory role similar to that undertaken by the Trust's other panels and any decision on the Trust's commercial activities would be made by the staff or the Board of Trustees, as appropriate.

Gardens and Parks

The Gardens & Parks Panel provides an external reference point for the Trust and advises on issues relating to the conservation of gardens and parks, plant collections, and the management and interpretation of gardens and parks open to the public.

Learning and Engagement

The Learning and Engagement Panel exists to support the National Trust in putting people at the heart of what we do, to help ensure that our places live in the spirit of the 1907 National Trust Act and are, in every sense, 'for the benefit of the nation'. The Panel’s role is to support, advise, challenge and provide critical support to staff across the National Trust and to advise Trustees on activities within their remit. It consists of a range of experts who help to ensure that we deliver our work to the highest standards and draw upon the best expertise available.

Natural Environment

The Natural Environment Panel provides an external reference point for the Trust and advises on the management of nature conservation and earth science features, and natural processes; raising the profile of nature conservation internally and externally; and developing strong, integrated conservation management links with other Trust disciplines. In particular, the Panel advises on proposals for National Nature Reserve designations, and the introduction or removal of species on to Trust land.

Rural Enterprises

The Rural Enterprises Panel provides an external reference point for the Trust and advises on the sustainable management of land and property, including the protection and wise use of natural resources, sustainable business development, rural housing, and the provision of public benefit through access, recreational land use and tourism. In particular, the Panel advises on the development of policies, key land use issues, major projects and acquisitions, and the Trust’s response to external factors affecting the management of land.