South Western Federation of Museums and Art Galleries

National Trust outlines plans to step up battle against climate change

Photo copyright: National Trust

The National Trust has unveiled one of the UK's biggest woodland expansion and tree planting projects in an ambitious plan to become carbon net zero by 2030 as the charity celebrates its 125th anniversary.

In a landmark speech to mark the milestone, the National Trust’s Director General Hilary McGrady has announced a series of new initiatives including planting and establishing 20 million new trees in 10 years as part of the charity’s plan to step up the battle against climate change.

Locking up carbon by maintaining precious peat bogs, investing in renewable energy and reducing the Trust’s carbon footprint are among the measures to hit the net zero target. Plans to unlock green spaces near urban areas, a year-long campaign to inspire people to engage with nature and address a ‘worrying disconnect’, as well as new plans for culture and heritage programmes have also been announced.

Hilary McGrady said: “It’s our 125th year and the National Trust has always been here for the benefit of everyone. That is why we are making these ambitious announcements in response to what is needed from our institution today. As Europe’s biggest conservation charity, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to fight climate change, which poses the biggest threat to the places, nature and collections we care for.

“I am pleased to say that by 2030 we will establish 20 million trees, creating 18,000 hectares of new woodland.

"Our plan also involves building on our decision last year to disinvest from fossil fuel companies, by reducing our own energy use further. We will do this by continuing to switch to renewable energy sources, reducing emissions from our farmed and let estate and managing our supply chain to tighter carbon targets.

McGrady added: “By cutting our own emissions and storing more carbon, the National Trust will achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030.

“We have started to look at ways that could encourage people to travel in a more sustainable way, be that through car sharing or working with organisations like Sustrans to find ways to get to our properties without having to drive,” says McGrady. “Our properties are in rural areas – that is the reality we are dealing with. Nonetheless, we are mindful of that and I think that will be phase two of where we are going.”

As well as commitments to the environment, the Trust will continue to connect people with the nation’s culture and heritage by investing £2.2 million a week in restoration work.

This year's South West Fed conference is on the theme 'Interpreting, curating and combatting the climate emergency'. If you would like to speak at the event, or run a workshop, you can read our call for papers here (deadline 24 Jan):