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Our views on nature and wildlife

The Holm oak, thought to be over 400 years old, at Westbury Court Garden, Gloucestershire
The Holm oak | © National Trust / James Dobson

As the UK's biggest landowner, we look after a lot of nature and wildlife. We strive to maintain environments that support a rich diversity of life. Find out more about our views on protecting and conserving nature and wildlife, and our position on issues including trail hunting and shooting.

Restoring nature

The National Trust was set up to protect places of natural beauty, and we plan to create and restore 'priority' wildlife habitats on 10 per cent of our land. These include habitats like chalk grassland and arable field margins, flagged by government as threatened and in need of help.

We will look to implement the 'better, bigger, more and joined-up' approach to nature conservation called for in a government-commissioned review by Sir John Lawton.

Our targets

We aim to create 25,000 hectares of new habitats by 2025 – the equivalent of more than 33,000 Premier League football pitches.

By this time, our ambition is that at least 50 per cent of our farmland will be 'nature-friendly', with protected hedgerows, field margins, ponds, woodland and other habitats allowing plants and animals to thrive.

How we're doing it

Supporting sustainable farming will be crucial for the plans to succeed. Many of our 1,300 farmers are already farming in a way which benefits wildlife and we will continue to work in partnership with our farmers.

Planting more hedgerows, which act as ‘wildlife corridors’ for birds and bats, establishing more lowland meadows and creating wetlands where appropriate could all help establish new habitats and will be considered in partnership with farmers and other stakeholders.

Wildflowers in June at Godolphin, Cornwall
Wildflowers in June at Godolphin, Cornwall | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

Standing up for nature

Nature is in decline. The numbers of butterflies in English woodlands have dropped by 58 per cent 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.

Supporting the Environmental Bill

As the UK Government progressed the new Environment Bill, the National Trust called for environmental measures to secure the future of our much-loved wildlife, parks, and landscapes. New nature laws provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to protect and restore the countryside you love. Included in the Bill, the Trust called for:

  • Environmental 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.
  • Legally-binding environmental principles to be carried over from the EU into UK law after Brexit.
  • An independent watchdog that will hold our politicians to account on the environment for many years to come.

The Environment Bill was passed in 2021.

Other initatives

Working towards a green recovery
With support from the Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund, we’re kickstarting a green recovery that secures our future with action on climate and the environment, while ensuring everyone can enjoy nature-rich green spaces on their doorstep.Find out how we're working towards a green recovery
Going peat-free
Discover why it's important to protect precious peatlands around the world, and how you can help by using peat-free compost.Going peat free
The black and white plumage of a great spotted woodpecker sat on a tree branch in a woodland
A great spotted woodpecker in Buttermere Valley | © National Trust Images/Jim Bebbington

Working with Greener UK

We’re part of a coalition of organisations urging the Government to protect and enhance the natural environment. The Greener UK coalition, which includes the National Trust, WWF, RSPB, The Wildlife Trusts, Woodland Trust, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, and Green Alliance, are united in the belief that now is the time for the UK to secure a healthy and thriving natural environment for this, and future generations, to enjoy.

Many of the UK’s environmental protections have been developed with the European Union. We believe that it is in everyone’s interests that strong standards remain in place to ensure clean air and water, a stable climate and thriving wildlife.

The Agriculture Act

We worked with partners at Greener UK to influence the Agriculture Act, from when the National Trust first introduced the concept of public money for public benefits, which became enshrined into the Bill in 2018.

The Agriculture Act is one of the most important piece of farming legislation for decades and we particularly welcome the Government’s commitment to begin the transition to the new Environmental Land Management scheme from 2021. This will play a critical part in helping meet the goals of the 25-year Environment Plan and the Government’s net zero carbon target by 2050.

We're now turning our attention to the necessary secondary legislation that will bring the new farming system to life, whilst also working to ensure the Environment Bill delivers the restoration that the natural environment so desperately needs.

Nature and wildlife position statements

Our position on trail hunting
Read the National Trust’s position on trail hunting, and the answers to frequently asked questions on the topic.Read our position
Our position on shooting
Discover the position the National Trust has taken on shooting.Read our position
Our view on badgers and bovine TB
Read the National Trust’s position on badgers and bovine TB, and how our approach to controlling this disease is guided.Our view on badgers and bovine TB

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Land use and planning 

Find out how the planning systems impacts the National Trust and how we advocate for the best outcomes for people, climate, nature and heritage.