Our plan to nurse environment back to health

Hydro turbine at Hafod y Llan farm, Snowdonia
Hydro turbine at Hafod y Llan farm, Snowdonia National Trust / John Millar
Published : 29 Sep 2015 Last update : 10 Nov 2015

We’ve launched an ambitious plan to nurse the natural environment back to health and reverse the alarming decline in wildlife. Our strategy for the next decade will also see us invest in looking after the nation’s heritage.

Recognising threats to nature and heritage

Climate change now poses the single biggest threat to the places we look after, bringing new, damaging threats to a natural environment already under pressure. It also poses a growing conservation challenge for the houses and gardens in our care.

The countryside had been damaged by decades of unsustainable land management, which has seen intensive farming and now climate change undermine the long-term health of the land. Sixty per cent of species have declined in the UK over the last 50 years, habitats have been destroyed and over-worked soils have been washed out to sea.

Protecting the natural environment

We’ll develop new, innovative ways of managing land on a large scale, which are good for farmers, the economy and the environment. We’ll work with partners to help look after some of the country’s most important landscapes, reconnecting habitats and bringing back their natural beauty.

The next decade will mark a new chapter in our history, which will see us increasingly join forces with other charities, government, business and local communities to improve the quality of the land and attract wildlife back to our fields, woods and river banks.

Playing our part in mitigating climate change will also be a priority and we’ll cut our energy usage by 20 per cent by 2020 and source 50 per cent of that from renewable sources on our land. We’ll also explore what role we could play in helping to safeguard the future of public green spaces.

Investing in the nation’s heritage

We’ll spend more than ever on looking after our historic houses and collections, clearing the backlog of repairs. We’ll also look at ways to help local communities look after the heritage that’s important to them, playing a leading role in the annual Heritage Open Days event.

As people’s tastes change and expectations grow, we’ll work harder to give our visitors experiences that are emotionally rewarding, intellectually stimulating and inspire them to support our cause. We’ll invest in major changes at our most visited houses to transform how we tell the story of why they matter.

To help members make the most of their membership, most properties will be moving to being open 364 days a year. Members and supporters will get more personalised information from us about events and activities and will be able to get enhanced information on our digital channels.

Looking to the future and beyond our boundaries

‘The protection of our natural environment and historic places over the past 100 years has been core to the work of the Trust but it has never been just about looking after our own places,’ says Helen Ghosh, our Director General. ‘This is a long-term commitment, for the benefit of generations to come.’‘Our strategy will see us working more collaboratively with a range of partners - we will support where we can and lead where we should,’ adds our Chairman Tim Parker. ‘The National Trust has always responded to the challenges of the time. I believe our founders would be proud of our ambitions and the part we plan to play.

This article was first published on 23 March 2015.