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Our views on land and farming

Two brown highland cattle graze among long grass and trees
Highland cattle grazing meadows at the Hafod Estate, Ceredigion, Wales | © National Trust Images/Paul Harris

We care for nearly 260,000 hectares of land across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. We were formed to look after places of historic interest and natural beauty for the benefit of everyone. It’s at the heart of everything we do.

Our ambitions for the land in our care

Today, we’re facing new challenges; climate change and the loss of nature represent the biggest risks to the planet and to our quality of life.

We’re already feeling the effects of a changing climate, and we need to adapt our land and the ways we manage it to be resilient to hotter temperatures and extreme weather. Britain’s wildlife is also in danger, with more than half of species in decline and 15 per cent of wildlife under threat of extinction.

How we plan to play our part:

  • We’re committed to delivering 25,000 hectares of newly created or restored priority wildlife habitats by 2025, to reverse the decline in wildlife on the land in our care.
  • At least 50 per cent of farmland in our care will be nature-friendly by 2025, with protected habitats for plants and animals including hedgerows, field margins, ponds and woodland.
  • We’ll reduce our emissions from land and create healthy habitats that support nature and capture carbon, including establishing 20 million trees, to support our plan to become carbon net zero by 2030.

Tenant farmers, graziers and common rights holders farming the land in our care can help restore landscapes and have a vital role in tackling the climate and nature crises. As we work together to protect the planet, we’re continuing to learn from farmers who are already making nature-friendly choices and we’re sharing that knowledge to help others learn too.

The choice is not nature or food, we need both; a healthy natural environment underpins good food production.

A green organic grazing meadow bordered by a mature hedgerow with blue sky and rolling hills in the background
Organic pasture at Holnicote Estate, Somerset | © National Trust Images/Nick Upton

The need for support

Farmers need to be rewarded properly for the action they take to support nature and capture carbon.

We believe that significantly more money needs to be directed towards ensuring nature and climate goals are met, and to help farming become environmentally sustainable, resilient and successful.

We’ve teamed up with farming and nature groups to support the farming consensus on how food, farming and nature can go hand-in-hand. This consensus highlights how crucial it is for investment in public goods to meet the environmental and societal challenges we're facing.

Governments in England, Wales and Northern Ireland can help by ensuring that new agri-environment schemes are adequately resourced, funded and well designed. These schemes need to incentivise ambitious actions and offer a full and fair reward in return for farmers and land managers playing their part in nature’s recovery and delivering other public goods.

Adopting nature-friendly, low carbon farming can also contribute to profitable business. For instance, lessening reliance on inputs from outside the farm reduces the risks caused by inflating costs. Some farms can become more profitable by finding the right balance of inputs such as fertiliser, feed and labour, and outputs such as improved soil quality, nature and food.

We’re also exploring other opportunities for funding that could benefit tenants and common rights holders.

Next steps

Our priority is to work with tenant farmers and common rights holders to create more habitats for nature and support innovative, nature-friendly and low carbon approaches to farming.

In doing so, we hope to be the landlord of choice for farmers who are passionate about nature and climate action, and who practice nature-friendly, low carbon farming.

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