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Working towards a green recovery

Rangers and HSBC volunteers planting Sphagnum moss at High Peak Estate, Derbyshire
Planting trees at Knightshayes, Devon | © National Trust Images/Paul Harris

With support from the Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund, we’re resolved to secure our future with action on climate and the environment, while ensuring people can enjoy nature on their doorstep, access local heritage and come together in shared cultural spaces. To this end, we're working hard to plant trees and hedgerows, restore floodplains, protect wildlife and store carbon at the places in our care.

Restoring nature at the places in our care

In November 2020, we found out we were successful in two funding bids: 'Historic Landscapes' and 'Ancient Woodland and Trees' (led by the Woodland Trust).

The two programmes of work not only help to tackle the climate and nature emergencies but also boost the economy by creating and retaining jobs within the sector. This stimulates demand and supports longer-term sustainable growth, as well as inspiring the conservationists and foresters of the future.

Looking after historic landscapes

The 'Historic Landscapes' programme has been awarded £3.85 million by Defra as part of the Green Recovery Challenge Fund. This programme of work, worth more than £4.7 million, will kickstart the development of a new purpose for five of our most historic landscapes. This means these treasured historic estates will also lead the way in delivering a much wider range of benefits for nature, carbon reduction and people.

Aerial image of ancient field systems on cliffs above the sea
Ancient field systems in Pembrokeshire | © National Trust Images/Joe Cornish

Rediscovering ancient farming methods

Aerial mapping technology is helping us identify areas to plant 75,000 trees at the Wallington Estate in Northumberland thanks to funding from the Government's Green Recovery Challenge Fund.

The £800,000 project is using LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology to uncover historic farming practices and archaeological aspects of the landscape dating back to 2,000 BC. This means we can protect and conserve these areas while identifying the best places for tree planting and hedgerow creation.

So far, aerial mapping has helped us discover 120 archaeological features, including evidence of 'ridge and furrow' cultivation, field boundaries, a 17th-century recreational landscape and cleared woodlands.

Restoring ancient trees and woods with the Woodland Trust

Ancient woodland continues to be destroyed and now only covers 2.5 per cent (609,990ha) of the UK's land mass, according to research from the Woodland Trust. The charity's report, State of the UK's Woods and Trees 2021, highlighted that 1,225 ancient woods are under threat from development and at least 981 have been permanently lost or damaged during the last 21 years.

This is why we're working with Woodland Trust to protect and restore ancient trees, woodlands and wildlife habitats. The Green Recovery Challenge Fund has provided funding of £3.86m to help us do this. In total, the partnership is delivering a £4.6m programme of work across 60 sites (918ha) cared for by the National Trust, Woodland Trust and by private owners.

Exmoor ponies roaming on the moorland of Holnicote Estate, Somerset
Exmoor ponies roaming on the moorland of Holnicote Estate, Somerset | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

What the project involves

The work, led by the Woodland Trust, will not only help tackle the climate and nature emergencies but also boost the economy by creating and saving jobs in the forestry sector. The 15-month programme, which started in January 2021, is taking place across England and will include the restoration of ancient woodland (191ha) at sites we look after in Devon and the East of England.

We'll also survey the most valuable ancient and veteran trees in our care using the Woodland Trust's Ancient Tree Inventory. This will help us record any gaps in our knowledge about the threats they face so we can better restore them in the future.

The places supporting a green recovery

Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire
We're making headway on our target to be carbon net zero by 2030 with our largest tree planting project to date. At the Wimpole Estate in Cambridgeshire we'll be planting 90,000 trees across the 1,000-hectare site. New woodland, wood pasture and agroforestry will be created as part of the project, which has received funding from the Government's Green Recovery Challenge Fund and HSBC UK.Find out more
Shropshire Hills
Working in partnership with local farmers and the community, we'll create and improve corridors of habitat between Long Mynd and Stiperstones. This will include hay meadows, heath, woodland, roadside verges and hedgerows. We'll also create an oral history project with local people called Listening to the Landscape.Find out more
Here our aim is to improve the environment for nature and people at sites across west and east Exmoor. A trial in conservation grazing will see native breeds of cattle, pigs and ponies helping to create a richer mosaic of habitats for wildlife. We'll also create woodland, conserve heathland and continue our work at the Holnicote estate to reconnect the river with its floodplain.
Lake District
Our work with a community group at Ullswater will help local people develop the skills needed to create and improve hedgerows and woodlands. We'll also set up a forest school in partnership with the West Cumbria Rivers Trust. The restoration of woodland pasture at Tilberthwaite will support rare insects and bats.
Buscot and Coleshill, Wiltshire
We’ll be creating new areas of woodland and restoring hedgerows and priority habitat across the Buscot and Coleshill Estate. We’re improving access with new paths to pave the way for the creation of a green corridor from Coleshill to Swindon. We're also looking at incentives available for new and alternative approaches to land management.
Cheshire countryside
We’ll be working across the Cheshire countryside at Dunham Massey, Quarry Bank and Lyme Park to create woodland and restore grasslands, hay meadows and wildflower meadows. We’ll also be restoring ponds and stretches of the River Bollin using natural flood management techniques and supporting land use that improves water quality.
Killerton Estate, Devon
Work is under way to restore floodplains, woodland and hedgerows across the Killerton Estate in Devon. Taking inspiration from a 19th-century painting of the estate, we'll be reconnecting an area of the River Culm to its floodplain. This 15-month restoration project will boost the landscape's ability to store carbon and create homes for wildlife, including butterflies, birds and otters.Find out more
Wallington, Northumberland
We're planting 75,000 trees at Wallington, making it the site of our largest tree-planting project to date. This autumn, work began to plant 13 hectares of woodland, create more than 10km of hedgerows, restore natural habitats and boost carbon storage. As the largest estate in our care, Wallington also has a huge role to play in the recovery of nature, including the endangered white-clawed crayfish, red squirrels, bats, birds and butterflies.
Ranger removing debris from the hydro at Watendlath, Cumbria

Tackling climate change

Uncover how we’re responding to the changing climate at places in our care.

Our partners

Green Recovery Challenge Fund

This project is funded by the government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund. The fund is being delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England and the Environment Agency.

Woodland Trust

The UK's largest woodland conservation charity.

Visit website 

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