Standing up for nature

Heather growing alongside a coastal path looking out towards the sea at sunset

The air we breathe, the seas we paddle in, the colourful leaves we walk through in autumn or see renewed in spring. The parks our children play in. Hearing the laughing cry of a green woodpecker or spotting an elusive red squirrel. Nature provides us with a lifetime of precious experiences, but now it needs our help.

Today, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to protect and restore the countryside we love. As the UK government writes new nature laws, the National Trust is calling for stronger environmental protections to secure the future of our much-loved wildlife, parks and landscapes. 

" Nature revives, rejuvenates and restores us and it needs us, now more than ever."
Time to act

Nature is in decline. The numbers of butterflies in English woodlands have dropped by 58% since 1990, and just one in seven of our rivers are in good health. The Trust's dedicated teams are already doing so much to care for our countryside, but they are facing increasing challenges caused by a changing climate and decades of intensive farming.

Now, for the first time in more than 40 years, the UK has a golden opportunity to rewrite the rules. We can bring back nature to inspire future generations. We can give our children the chance to see a red squirrel darting between the trees, to run through a cloud of butterflies, or to paddle in a cool, babbling stream. And we can build a stronger foundation for food production, with rewards for farmers who create better conditions for nature.   

Grey seal on the beach at Blakeney Point, North Norfolk

2018: a rollercoaster year for wildlife 

It was a year of extreme temperatures - from an arctic winter to a prolonged, hot summer. Find out what this meant for our birds, butterflies, seals and fish, and how keeping an eye on the weather helps us look after nature.

Why it matters

The government has said that this generation should be the first to leave the natural environment in a better state than when we inherited it. The current draft bill doesn’t go far enough to meet that promise. The government now has an opportunity not only to replace current EU law with the UK’s own version, but to go beyond the current protections and be truly effective in restoring nature.

We're making our views known because we believe that it is not sustainable to carry on with the way things are. Now is the time to act. 

Here are three examples of how our existing laws help nature: 

What we're calling for

We know we must do more so that nature can thrive. That’s why we’re calling on the government to create a bold and far-reaching Environment Bill. Here are the three key elements we’re asking for:

  • Nature targets that politicians now and in the future need to meet and report on. Targets that clean up our seas and rivers, make our soils healthy again and rejuvenate habitats 
  • World-leading environmental principles to ensure that when we make new laws, we consider the impact they will have on nature
  • An independent watchdog that will hold our politicians to account on the environment for many years to come.

To find out more about the Environment Bill and what it means for nature, read our interview with Patrick Begg, Outdoors and Natural Resources Director, in the spring issue of the National Trust Magazine. 

What we stand for

We're passionate about open spaces and historic places - and we're working hard in other areas too. With your help, we care for the environment, food and farming, green energy and transport, and heritage.