Late Iron Age and Roman coins discovered in cave

An excavation in Dovedale, Derbyshire has unearthed a hoard of Late Iron Age and Republican Roman coins, the first time coins of these two origins are thought to have been found buried together in a cave in Britain. Continue reading

Dyffryn gardens receives Royal guests

Dyffryn Gardens hosted a visit from TRH Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall today to coincide with its dahlia trial centenary. Continue reading

Tim Parker to be next Chairman of National Trust

The National Trust is delighted to announce the appointment of Tim Parker as its next Chairman. He will take up the role after the Annual General Meeting in Swindon on 8 November when current Chairman, Simon Jenkins, steps down.

Tim Parker

Tim Parker

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Three mountains, two days, one film – go ‘wild’ to enjoy Project Wild Thing

Screenings of documentary film at highest peaks in the UK to mark National Children’s Day UK

This weekend, The Wild Network is supporting extreme film screenings of its feature length documentary ‘Project Wild Thing’ in three of the UK’s wildest landscapes to encourage families to take their screens outdoors to help reconnect a generation of kids with nature. Continue reading

National Trust responds to Defra’s Plant Security Strategy

Today (April 30) an updated Tree Health Management Plan has been published by the Government’s Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Expert Taskforce, alongside a wider Plant Biosecurity Strategy.

Reacting to the reports, a spokesperson at the National Trust said: “We welcome the publication of the strategy but it is unclear if there is sufficient funding or resources being allocated to this problem to really make a difference.

“Trees and plants don’t have votes so cuts to Defra’s budgets are sometimes seen as easier for Government but the consequences can be devastating for our wildlife, landscapes and rural economy.”

National Trust responds to Environmental Audit Committee findings

On the day of an EU vote on new proposals to tackle the problem of invasive non-native species at a continent-wide level, the Environmental Audit Committee is calling on the Government to revamp the system for controlling invasive species in England and Wales.

Its key recommendations are to work together more effectively, to do more work in identifying invasive species which pose a threat to the UK more quickly; and to introduce an early surveillance system which would then trigger action which would result in eradication.

Responding to the report, David Bullock, Head of Nature Conservation at the National Trust said: “Tackling invasive non-native species needs public agencies and voluntary organisations to work more effectively together, so we’re pleased this is a key recommendation from the Committee. But we also need agencies to be much more innovative in the way they detect and monitor threats. Better coordination and more effective detection will become even more important as climate change and globalisation add to the challenges the UK faces.”

National Trust garden gems to feature in new BBC Four series

Three National Trust gardens are set to feature in a new BBC Four series uncovering the rich social and horticultural history of four British heritage landscapes with the first episode airing tonight at 9pm.

The four-part series, British Gardens in Time, explores the grand Georgian landscape at Stowe in Buckinghamshire (NT), Biddulph Grange, a superb example of a Victorian garden in Staffordshire (NT), the romantic turn-of-the-century Nymans in West Sussex (NT) and Christopher Lloyd’s dazzling 20th century garden, Great Dixter in East Sussex which is privately-run.

New series British Gardens in Time starts tonight on BBC Four at 9pm

New series British Gardens in Time starts tonight on BBC Four at 9pm

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Putting ‘brownfield first’ at the heart of the planning system

As the Communities and Local Government Select Committee launches an inquiry today into the National Planning Policy Framework the National Trust gives its reaction:

“The Communities and Local Government Select Committee played a key role in improving the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) as it was being drafted, and so we’re pleased it will be looking at how these planning rules are being implemented and understood.

“The Government’s clear intention is to deliver a brownfield first approach and protect our Green Belt and special areas of countryside, yet this does not seem to be happening on the ground. Evidence we have gathered suggests some councils feel unable to prioritise brownfield site development and maintain their Green Belt, and two years on from the adoption of the NPPF, there are still only 52% of councils with an approved local plan in place. We will be sharing our concerns with the Committee, and hope its inquiry will help to solve this problem.”

After the flood…moving beyond the blame game

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson and Chairman of the Environment Agency Chris Smith will be giving oral evidence to the Environment, Food and Rural Afairs Select Committee today on the winter flooding. Assistant Director of External Affairs, Richard Hebditch, reflects on missed opportunities and learning the lessons.

Few of us can have failed to notice and feel sympathy for those affected by the extensive flooding over the winter. Not surprisingly, this was seen as a test for Ministers – were they capable of responding quickly to help those affected but also to set out the long term measures needed to deal with what will be a growing problem as climate change adds to extreme weather events.

But perhaps inevitably, the response in the winter turned into a blame game between local MPs, the NFU, Government Ministers and the Environment Agency.

But since then there’s been some progress on identifying common ground – Defra will set out in the Autumn a long-term plan for dealing with the increased risk of floods and we’ve seen the publication of a 20 year flood action plan for the Levels that recognises that a wider catchment based approach is needed, alongside some desilting of channels. Even those calling most loudly for more dredging are now calling for a more holistic approach with work to slow up water upstream , as in our own project at Holnicote.

But today, we could be seeing a return to the blame game. The House of Commons select committee overseeing the work of Defra have chosen to only focus on maintenance and dredging in their inquiry on the winter floods. We think that’s a mistake. Although the Committee had an inquiry last year on flooding and say that that dealt with those issues, it’s clear that only focusing on this narrow agenda after the floods will give a biased view of the actions we need.

For instance, the role of holding and slowing water in upper catchment areas won’t be covered, and the role of whether subsidies for farming add to the problem of silting up rivers or increasing run off from fields is off limits.

Today, the Committee will be hearing from the Environment Agency’s Chris Smith and Environment Secretary Owen Paterson. With the publication this week of the IPCC’s report on the impacts of climate change, this should be a chance to explore how we can all deal with the increased threat of flooding. Instead, the Committee is in danger of missing the point, serving the interests of those who want to avoid the bigger challenge of changing farming practices or working across a wider catchment and instead want to focus on just one aspect of water management.

Music to Tweet To

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A leading UK beatboxer has vocally recreated the nation’s best-known songbirds to celebrate the sounds of spring and encourage the nation to get outdoors and experience nature first hand.

The album of tweet music was commissioned by the National Trust after academic research found that listening to  birdsong, one of the Trust’s 50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾, not only makes people calmer but boosts positivity.Three quarters of Brits (75 per cent) also felt more connected to nature in spring while the sounds of spring bring back happy memories of childhood for over half the nation (57 per cent).

Beatboxer and vocal sculptor Jason Singh visited National Trust places for inspiration before creating the album, which features birds and wildlife including Blackbirds, Robins, Woodpeckers, Crows, Skylarks, Owls, Warblers, Buzzards, Frogs and Crickets.

Singh explained, “I love the magic of spring, particularly at Tatton Park which I have been going to for years. When the silence of winter comes to an end, you can feel a real sense of change as the parkland erupts with noise, bursts of colour and new life. This is what makes spring so special for me and it’s this that I really wanted to capture in this project.

 “It was important to me that the bird calls and environments I recreated were as life like and authentic as possible, so it was great to work with the National Trust’s nature experts to better understand the flora and fauna of spring.”

 Listeners are set to find the new National Trust soundtrack a soothing experience after a recent psychological study found that natural sounds have restorative qualities. The study found the call sounds of songbirds and other sounds of nature help people recover much quicker from stressful scenarios compared with the noise of urban living.

 University of Surrey Environmental Psychology PhD student Eleanor Ratcliffe, who is working on an ongoing study with the National Trust into the psychological impact of birdsong in people’s lives added: “It makes sense that people should find birdsong calming. Songbirds tend to sing when it is safe, and it makes evolutionary sense that we should feel calmer in a safe natural environment.”

 In a poll of 2,000 people, the National Trust found that 42 per cent of those living in cities often feel ‘starved’ of nature, with almost one in five (19 per cent) rarely hear birdsong with 19 per cent of city dwellers regularly woken up by the noise of cars or planes. In addition, over a third (35 per cent) have noticed a decline in the variety of birds they see in their area with continued building on Britain’s green spaces a major worry for 70 per cent of those questioned.

 According to the research 42 per cent consider spring their favourite season with 77 per cent stating that they feel more optimistic during this time of year.

The nations top ten spring sounds

  1. Birds singing (69 per cent)
  2. An early morning ‘dawn chorus’ of birds (60 per cent)
  3. Tinkling stream (43 per cent)
  4. A babbling brook (40 per cent)
  5. April showers (37 per cent)
  6. Lambs baaing (37 per cent)
  7. Bees buzzing (34 per cent)
  8. Wind rustling the trees (33 per cent)
  9. Lawnmowers cutting grass for the first time this year (33 per cent)
  10. Baby chicks chirping (29 per cent)

Matthew Oates, National Trust wildlife and nature expert added, “With 45.7 million of us now living in cities, we wanted to produce a unique piece of music that would bring the wonderful sounds of spring  to everyone – no matter where they are! By developing this in a quirky, creative way, we hope our album of tweet music inspires families and kids to have fun in the outdoors this spring and enjoy all the benefits that the sounds of nature can bring.”

 As part of its role in the Wild Network, the conservation charity has also highlighted some of its top places to spring spot this March and April in a drive to encourage more children to get outdoors and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature:

  1. Mottisfont Abbey, Hampshire. Listen to a spectacular dawn chorus of birds in springtime at Mottisfont. This atmospheric 13th century property has its very own spring sound experience for visitors too!
  2. Tatton Park, Cheshire. This vast wild parkland is home to a deer park and an incredible 19th century mansion. Head to Tatton for misty spring mornings and listening out for the pitter patter of April showers.
  3. Biddulph Grange Gardens, Midlands. The colourful spring blooms and greenery at Biddulph make this spot the place to hear honeybees at work.
  4. Hardcastle Crags, West Yorkshire. Come to Hardcastle Crags to listen to the soothing sounds of babbling brooks and the tweets of baby birds. Be sure to tackle some of the site’s nature trails in April.
  5. Brockhampton Estate, Herefordshire. A beautiful spot to listen to the sounds of baby lambs baaing at this beautiful parkland Herefordshire. On 22 April, Brockhampton will host Family Den Building Day – a chance to have fun learning survival skills.
  6. Batemans, Sussex. From robins, rooks and blackbirds – take a sensory walk through the wooded landscape of the Sussex Weald.
  7. Sheringham Park, Norfolk. Rarer chiffchaffs can be heard chirping within the varied woodland habitat of Sheringham Park. Tick some 50Things activities off your bucket list and learn how to track wild animals on 9April.
  8. Polesden Lacey, Surrey. Home to the great tit and song thrush, Polesden Lacey is in the rolling Surrey Hills just outside the M25. Head here on selected dates in April to climb in tree canopies with an instructor and zip wire, if you’re feeling brave!
  9. Quantock Hills, Somerset. Wonderful walks can be had here with incredible views of valley woodlands and hilltops. Listen out for the beautiful Skylark here.
  10. Sugar Loaf & Usk Valley, Wales. The peaks and valleys of this dramatic region are a prime place to hear tinkling streams and spot swooping birds of prey. Join NT rangers for a family adventure in St Mary’s Vale on 19 April and tick off some 50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾.

 Listen to the tweet music : http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/article-1355829452961/

Or you can download it direct from Jason Singh’s website: http://thesinghthing.com/2014/03/20/national-trust-commission-tweet-music-celebrating-the-sounds-of-spring/