Wannabee shepherds flock to get glimpse of Parc Life

HUNDREDS of applicants hoping to secure a unique £1 tenancy offer at the National Trust’s 145-acre coastal farm in North Wales will have their first chance to explore the landscape, buildings and their new potential home today.

Goat  young nanny Gr Orme National Trust Matthew Oates

The conservation charity’s announcement that Parc Farm on the Great Orme in Llandudno would be let for less than the cost of two second-class stamps sparked international interest and thousands of enquiries from across the globe.

National Trust General Manager William Greenwood said: “The volume of interest has been incredible. People clearly want to give nature a helping hand and ensure this special place is healthy, beautiful, rich in wildlife and culture and is enjoyed for ever for everyone.

“It seems to have really caught the public’s imagination, and we’re really looking forward to welcoming some of those potential applicants to Parc Farm for the official viewing day today, to give them a taste of just what that one pound buys.”

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Red squirrel study launched to assess scale of disease

Wildlife experts have launched a project to better understand how British red squirrels are affected by a form of leprosy.

The study will investigate how the disease is passed between squirrels and how conservationists can help control its spread.

Leprosy was first identified in red squirrels in Scotland in 2014, caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium lepromatosis, although the disease is believed to have been present in the squirrel population for centuries.

Post-mortems have since revealed that the disease is also affecting squirrels on the Isle of Wight and Brownsea Island, off the south coast of England. The risk to people from the disease is very low.

The new research study will take place on Brownsea Island, in Poole Harbour, Dorset, which is home to around 200 red squirrels. The island location allows researchers to study the impact of leprosy in a contained environment.

The disease is believed to have been present on Brownsea for many years but researchers have only recently diagnosed it as leprosy.

Little is known about how the bacteria is spreading among red squirrels. The disease causes swelling and hair loss to the ears, muzzle and feet.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh are working with the National Trust and Dorset Wildlife Trust on the project.

Vets will use humane traps to capture the squirrels for health checks. They will take blood samples and other clinical samples for analysis before returning the animals to the wild.

Red squirrels have drastically declined in the UK with fewer than 140,000 thought to be remaining on our shores. The main threat to their numbers is from habitat loss and the squirrelpox virus, which is deadly to red squirrels.

Lead researcher Professor Anna Meredith, of the University’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, said: “The aim of our study is to find out how and why red squirrels catch leprosy, and how it affects both individuals and populations.

“This disease appears to have been in squirrel populations in Scotland and England’s south coast for some time. With this research, we aim to help conservationists better understand and manage the disease in this iconic species.”

Brownsea Island is managed by the National Trust. A large nature reserve on the island, comprising lagoon, reedbed and woodland habitats, is managed by Dorset Wildlife Trust.

Angela Cott, National Trust’s General Manager on Brownsea Island, said: “Bringing together academics and conservationists, this research project represents a significant first step towards deepening our understanding of a complex disease in British red squirrels.

“Many thousands of people visit Brownsea every year, enjoying the island’s wonderful wildlife. Brownsea will remain open whilst the research project takes place.”

Dr Simon Cripps, Chief Executive of Dorset Wildlife Trust, said: “Dorset Wildlife Trust is very pleased to hear Brownsea Island will be involved with a study of national importance.  At last we may be getting closer to understanding why this much loved British species is struggling to survive.  We hope that the research on red squirrels on Brownsea Island will help us to better manage and restore their remaining populations.”

For press information please contact:
Tom Seaward, Assistant Press Officer, 07810 814848 or tom.seaward@nationaltrust.org.uk

Historic England, National Trust and English Heritage welcome ICOMOS/UNESCO report on Stonehenge tunnel plans

Historic England, the National Trust and English Heritage welcome the ICOMOS/UNESCO report published today which recognises the benefits a tunnel of at least 2.9km could bring to the Stonehenge World Heritage Site, if it is designed and delivered well.

The report by the International Council on Monuments and Sites and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation is the result of an advisory mission to the World Heritage Site in October 2015. The report mirrors the views held jointly by Historic England, the National Trust and English Heritage, in acknowledging that a fully-bored tunnel of at least 2.9km could help to significantly improve the World Heritage Site and that the design and location of all aspects of the road improvement scheme need to be carefully and fully considered.

View from Normanton Down towards the Stonehenge Landscape, Wiltshire. The landscape is studded with ancient monuments.

View from Normanton Down towards the Stonehenge Landscape, Wiltshire. Credit National Trust Images/John Miller

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Our view on foraging for wild food

Our National Specialist Matthew Oates writes:

‘The National Trust supports the use of its properties for foraging for abundant species of wild food for personal use. Good foraging will remind us that we are part of nature, make us appreciate nature more, and tame our instincts to over-exploit nature.

Clump of Wild Garlic (Allium ursinum) at Prior Park, Bath, Somerset

Foraging activities must be based on the principle of sustainability. We must protect vulnerable species and habitats, and ensure that foraging takes place in a safe and sustainable way.

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Bluebells at Dockey Wood, Ashridge Estate

On two weekends in early May, the National Trust plans to charge visitors a small amount to enter the woodlands at Dockey Wood on the 2,000 hectare Ashridge Estate in Hertfordshire. Entrance for National Trust members will be free.

Dockey Wood is noted for its spectacular bluebell displays, with thousands coming into bloom at the end of April and early May. However, in recent years large visitor numbers has led to trampling of the flowers and compaction of the soils – which has in turn meant that bluebell numbers are declining.

The charge – £3 for adults and £1 for children over the age of five – will be made over two weekends: 30th April – 2nd May and 7th – 8th May, 10:00-16:00. Entry will be free for members of the National Trust.

The Trust has created a designated visitor route through the bluebells in a bid to offer them further protection. Fencing has also been erected at the entrance to the woods to prevent erosion to the woodland’s bank and ditch.

The money raised from entrance fees over the two weekends will go directly towards conservation of wild flowers and trees at Dockey Wood and the wider Ashridge Estate.

Lawrence Trowbridge, Lead Ranger at the Ashridge Estate, said: ‘The countryside at Ashridge is free and it can be accessed at any time, any day of the year.

‘We want to ensure that as many visitors as possible can experience the bluebells at Dockey Wood, while also protecting them for future visitors to enjoy.

‘Over the past few years we’ve noticed that the bluebells are being damaged by trampling and the soil that they grow in is being compacted. This means that the overall numbers of bluebells are reducing, which is concerning.  The measures we are taking are all about conserving this wonderful spectacle for many years to come.’

Lalenya Kukielka, Visitor Experience Manager at Ashridge Estate, told the Daily Telegraph: ‘We see around 2,000 cars per day – although not all to Dockey Wood – at weekends in peak bluebell season. The popularity of bluebells and the numbers of visitors at bluebell time has definitely increased in recent years.

‘I took one phone call today from a lady from Lichtenstein who was travelling to Ashridge to see the bluebells. Local photographers advertise the bluebell woods as a backdrop for family portraits and the visitor centre takes many enquiries about large group visits.

‘The reaction to our measures to manage footfall at Dockey Wood has been reassuringly positive. Most people, particularly those who come regularly to Ashridge understand that something needed to be done to protect the bluebells.’

About Ashridge Estate

Ashridge is a 2,000 hectare estate in the Chiltern Hills, comprising woodland, commons and chalk downland. Entrance to this countryside estate is free to all visitors.

Visitors can see Bluebells free of charge elsewhere on the Ashridge Estate. Download our Bluebell Walk here: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ashridge-estate/trails/three-in-one-bluebell-walk-at-ashridge.

About Bluebells

Bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta is a plant particularly associated with ancient woodland where it may dominate the woodland floor in spring to produce carpets of violet–blue flowers. It is protected under UK law. Bluebells tend to grow in lightly acid soils and to get the most of the spring sunshine, they flower quickly – just before the trees growing above them are in full leaf. They can grow quickly during this period by using the nutrients stored in their bulbs. As bluebells are adapted to woodlands, the young shoots are able to penetrate through a thick layer of leaf litter found on the woodland floor. They cannot however penetrate heavily compacted soils and the bulbs eventually die.

Visitors can see Bluebells at many National Trust places. Late April and early May is the best time to see these wild flowers. Find a Bluebell wood near you at https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lists/bluebell-woods-near-you.

For press enquiries contact Tom Seaward, Assistant Press Officer, tom.seaward@nationaltrust.org.uk or 01793 818544

Celebrating thirty years as World Heritage sites

On World Heritage Day this Monday (18th April) three iconic National Trust landscapes and places will celebrate thirty years as UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Established in the 1970s by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the World Heritage Convention recognises places of natural or cultural interest that are of international importance, protecting them for future generations.

The United Kingdom joined the UNESCO scheme in 1986.

In that year seven places in the UK were granted World Heritage status. They included three iconic landscapes now in the care of the National Trust: Giant’s Causeway, Stonehenge and Avebury Landscape, and Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Gardens.

Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland was the only place awarded World Heritage status in 1986 for its importance as a natural landscape.

Formed over millions of years, the Giant’s Causeway is famous for its tall basalt columns. The columns inspired one of the legends associated with Finn McCool (or Finn mac Cumhaill), the fair haired giant who – it is claimed – built the causeway in order to do battle with Benandonner, a Scottish rival.

View across part of the Giant's Causeway, Co Antrim

View across part of the Giant’s Causeway, Co. Antrim. These basaltic columns were formed during a period of violent geological activity. (C) National Trust Images/Joe Cornish

Eleanor Killough, National Trust Learning and Visitor Experience Manager at Giant’s Causeway, said: “It is a privilege to assist in managing such an important landmark. Those of us who work here know how much the causeway is valued both by international visitors and the local community.”

This weekend, visitors to Giant’s Causeway can celebrate thirty years of the site’s World Heritage status with trails, family craft activities and music from around the globe.

Wiltshire’s Stonehenge and Avebury, also celebrating its thirtieth year as a World Heritage site, is one of the best places in northern Europe for prehistoric monuments, most famously Stonehenge and the stone circle at Avebury. The National Trust cares for the Avebury stones and much of the grassland landscape that surrounds Stonehenge.

All this year visitors can walk this ancient landscape with the Avebury 50km walking challenge.

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Gardens in North Yorkshire boasts a more recent history. The magnificent Cistercian monastery – dissolved by Henry VIII in 1539 – was later incorporated into the elegant water gardens of John Aislabie, a socially ambitious politician of the eighteenth century.

Since being designated a World Heritage site in 1986, Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Gardens has welcomed nine million visitors.

Sarah France, World Heritage Coordinator and Conservation Manager at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Garden, said: “With 800 years of human history in one landscape, Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal World Heritage Site has a wealth of stories that offer a fascinating window into the past. It is a truly unique place; breathtakingly beautiful throughout the seasons.”

Celebrate thirty years of world heritage with the National Trust this weekend

Giant’s Causeway World Heritage Day

Giant’s Causeway Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland

Sun 17 April; 9:00 – 19:00

Take a 2-hour guided walk with a National Trust conservation expert and plant wildflowers, or join us in the Visitor Centre for a themed-treasure trail, crafts and world music with Belfast musical ensemble, Los Dramaticos.  Normal admission applies; National Trust members free admission. Book online for discount at www.giantscausewaytickets.com. To book a place on the guided walk call: 028 2073 3419.

Avebury 50km Walking Challenge

Avebury, Wiltshire

Throughout 2016

Discover eight walks in Stonehenge and Avebury’s ancient landscape, finding out more about the area’s wildlife and archaeology on the way.  Totalling 50km, each of the eight walks varies in length from between 3km (approx 2 miles) to 9.5km (approx. 6 miles). Registration for this self-led challenge costs £10, with all money going towards conserving these special landscapes. Register before the end of 2016 and you will be entered into a prize draw, with the chance to win £300 voucher to spend with our partners Cotswold Outdoor.

Exhibition: Thirty years of World Heritage Site

Fountains Hall, Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Gardens, North Yorkshire

Sat 16 April – Wed 29 June; 10:30 – 17:30

Find out about the achievements and challenges involved in maintaining the World Heritage site at a special exhibition in Fountains Hall (Saturday 16 April – Wednesday 29 June). Exclusive to this weekend (16 – 17 April, 11am – 4pm), try designing your own landscape garden and discover what life as an eighteenth century gardener would have been like at our historical gardeners’ tent.

 

Statement on senior membership price increases

The National Trust currently offers nearly one million senior members a heavily discounted price of 25% off our adult rates.

This discount is offered to senior members who have held either an individual or joint membership for at least five of the last ten years as a way of saying thank you for their long-term support.

That costs the Trust over £11m a year (in lost income) but we believe it’s right to reward our members’ loyalty in this way.

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