New nature reports: Nature needs us and we need nature

An ambitious long-term plan is needed to save nature as the Government considers its spending priorities.

We need a plan to help nature recover and everyone needs to play their part

We need a plan to help nature recover and everyone needs to play their part

That is the clear message from the Response for Nature reports published today by a coalition of leading conservation organisations, including the National Trust, RSPB and Wildlife Trusts.

The reports, each setting out a vision for restoring nature in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, will be launched at events in London, Cardiff, Belfast and Edinburgh this evening (Tuesday, 13 October).

They follow 2013’s State of Nature report, the first ever comprehensive stock-take of our native species. It revealed that 60% of the species studied had declined over recent decades. One in ten species were at threat of disappearing altogether.

Each of the reports launched tonight make key recommendations to which governments must respond to, to help restore nature in the UK.

A misty sunrise on Ibsley Common, New Forest, Hampshire, in August.

The reports call on central and devolved governments to deliver an inspiring vision for nature, establish a network of special places for nature to help threatened species recover and improve the connection of young people to nature for their own health and well-being and for nature’s future.

Speaking tonight at the London launch, presenter of children’s programme Deadly 60 and Springwatch, Steve Backshall, will say: “The State of Nature report revealed where we are. Now we need a plan for where we should go. The Response for Nature document starts us on that long road.

“Action can’t be simply hived off to a single, hard-pressed department in Whitehall. It must run as a matter of course through every department, from Defra to the Treasury. Every individual, from top to bottom, needs to embrace it, and act on it.”

Puffins on the Farne Islands off of the Northumberland coast

Puffins on the Farne Islands off of the Northumberland coast

David Bullock, Head of Nature Conservation at the National Trust and co-author of the Response for Nature report, says: “We have to do more than simply halt nature’s decline. We need to reverse it once and for all.

“That can only happen if we are able to connect nature with people. If people understand why nature matters, they’re going to care. And if they care about nature, they’re more likely to act to protect it.”

Read the full Response for Nature reports at You can join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #responsefornature

The sounds of our shores

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Imogen Tinkler, communications intern for the National Trust, looks back at some of the highlights from the ‘Sounds of our shores’ project

After three months, over 680 uploads and around 67,000 listens, the ‘Sounds of Our Shores’ project in collaboration with the British Library and the National Trust for Scotland has come to a close.

As well as encouraging people to get out and explore the seaside, the aim of this coastal sound map was to create a ‘snapshot’ of the UK coastline that could be preserved for future generations. Yet the sounds that we have received not only create a sense of what our shores sound like in 2015, but also reveal much about our relationship with the coast.

Waves crash against the rocks at Heddon's Mouth, North Devon.

Waves crash against the rocks at Heddon’s Mouth, North Devon. Credit National Trust.

One discovery we’ve made through this project is the sheer diversity of sounds that can be heard near the sea. On the soundmap, the classic noises of seagulls and waves breaking on the shore sit alongside some more unusual contributions, such as the roar of ‘The Deluge’ chain flush inside the (now disused) ornate Victorian toilets on Rothesay seafront in Glasgow.   Continue reading

A collection of wild words

Last week we posted a blog about gathering together wild words that capture our relationship with the natural world and we’ve had a great response from our members and supporters – thank you. Writer and naturalist Robert Macfarlane had put out a call for local and regional words, the autumn issue of the National Trust magazine, to include in the paperback edition of his book Landmarks, which will be out in spring 2016.

Here are some of the suggestions that have arrived in our in-boxes in the last seven days and there is still plenty of time (until the end of October) to add your favourites to the list by emailing You can tweet your words about the natural world using the hashtag #naturewords.

Ladybird on sunflower leaves at Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire, in June.

In Norfolk a ladybird is known as a ‘Bishybarnybee’

Wild words:
From Hampshire we have ‘emmits’ for ants

A few Norfolk Words:
Dodman is a snail
Bishybarnybee is ladybird
Mavish is song thrush
Sowpig is woodlouse
Spink is a finch

A Staffordshire wild word is ‘puthery’ -the intense stillness and humidity before a thunderstorm. Staffordshire

Words with possible multiple origins via south Oxfordshire, Somerset, Sussex, Buckinghamshire and Angus:
Frith: the darkness of a forest in the height of summer
Foggage: mossy grass (used by my Scottish grandmother)
Harkwell: a woodpecker
Lummy: round straw bale
Moorcock: a grouse
Tath: cowpats
Ughten: twilight in the morning
Whinnock: a little piglet

A nice Northumberland wild word – ‘Clarts’ meaning Muddiness under foot.

A collection of Staffordshire wild words:
‘Slang’ – a small wood, usually one that’s grown up around a Marl Pit
‘Marl Pit’- a pond or depression where in days gone by red clay or “Marl” was dug, either for pottery, brickmaking or to make sandy soils heavier and less acidic

In Cumbria a ‘lonning’ means a back lane, a green lane or much used track in rural locations

Some Lancashire dialect words:
Neddy is a Hare
Lops is Fleas
Moidie, mowdywarp are words for a Mole
Hay moo, hay rick are words for Hay stack
Clags, clart are works for mud
Plank platt are words for a bridge

Yorkshire wild words:
foss/ force means a waterfall
frozzed referring to face or fingers being very cold
clarty means dirty, muddy, sticky

And finally a ‘Spronky’ is a word to describe word root vegetables which have grown with multiple roots/don’t look particularly traditional

Wildlife on the Great Orme

Matthew Oates, National Specialist on Nature and Wildlife for the National Trust, shares his love for the Great Orme in North Wales and the wildlife that calls it home.

The Great Orme is a place of pilgrimage for British naturalists.  Try finding a botanist or a butterfly enthusiast who hasn’t been there, or at least one who doesn’t desperately want to visit.  It is also on the birders’ radar, for its increasing Chough population and because it is a place where rare migrants turn up.  Bat, beetle, lichen, moss, moth and marine wildlife enthusiasts also know and love the Great Orme, as do geologists, geographers and archaeologists. In effect, it is a wildlife paradise.

The Great Orme, 12/05/15. Photograph Richard Williams 07901518159

The Great Orme, Credit National Trust, Richard Williams

Continue reading

National Trust to complete largest ever survey of its coastal wildlife

BioBlitz12, Copyright National Trust, credit Steven Haywood

The National Trust are carrying out 25 BioBlitzes of coastal wildlife this summer. Copyright National Trust, credit Steven Haywood

This summer, hundreds of wildlife lovers and nature experts will help the National Trust to carry out its largest ever survey of coastal wildlife as part of the conservation charity’s year-long celebrations of the coast.

24 places along the 775 miles of coastline looked after by the National Trust across England, Wales and Northern Ireland will host a BioBlitz, a race against the clock involving rangers, experts and members of the public to record as many different species as possible.

A 25th BioBlitz will also be held at Kinver Edge in Staffordshire. Although land locked, this beautiful sandstone escarpment was once formed of ancient sand dunes and the survey will help uncover how some coastal wildlife can live away from the sea.

Continue reading

Riverside haven opens at Bodnant

A ten acre area of tranquil riverside gardens will open tomorrow (Saturday 28 March) at the National Trust’s Bodnant Garden in north Wales for the first time in its 140-year history. Continue reading

National Trust launches ambitious plan to nurse natural environment back to health

The National Trust today (Monday, 23 March) launched an ambitious plan to nurse the natural environment back to health and reverse the alarming decline in wildlife – as it warned time was running out to save the countryside from further harm.

Image 1  Satellite image taken on Feb 16, 2014, shows how soil is washed from fields and out into the sea.  Credit NEODAAS University of Dundee.

Satellite image taken on Feb 16, 2014, shows how soil is washed from fields and out into the sea. Credit NEODAAS University of Dundee.

Europe’s biggest conservation charity said climate change now poses the single biggest threat to the places the Trust looks after, bringing new, damaging threats to a natural environment already under-pressure, and a growing conservation challenge to its houses and gardens.

The countryside had been damaged by decades of unsustainable land management, which has seen intensive farming and now climate change undermine the long-term health of the land. 60% of species have declined in the UK over the last 50 years [1], habitats have been destroyed and over-worked soils have been washed out to sea.

The Trust said it would challenge itself to develop new, innovative ways of managing land on a large scale, which were good for farmers, good for the economy and good for the environment. It also pledged to work with partners to help look after some of the country’s most important landscapes, reconnecting habitats and bringing back their natural beauty.

The River Liza, part of the Wild Ennerdale project, Cumbria.

The River Liza, part of the Wild Ennerdale project, Cumbria. Copyright National Trust.

The next decade will mark a new chapter in the Trust’s history, which will see it increasingly join forces with other charities, government, business and local communities to improve the quality of the land and attract wildlife back to the fields, woods and river banks.

The charity, which has over 4.2m members, announced it would spend more than ever on looking after its historic houses and collections, and would also explore ways to help local communities to look after the heritage that is important to them.

Launched today in central London, the Trust’s 10-year strategy ‘Playing our Part – What does the nation need from the National Trust in the 21 century?’ outlines four key priority areas:

Looking after our places

  • We will spend around £1bn over the next ten years on the conservation of our houses, gardens and countryside, including £300m on clearing the backlog of repairs.
  • We will continue to play our part in mitigating climate change: cutting our energy usage by 20% by 2020 and sourcing 50% of that from renewable sources on our land.

Healthy, beautiful natural environment

  • Develop new economic models of land use to share with others and champion the role of nature in our lives.
  • We will work with our tenant farmers to improve all our land to a good condition.
  • We will work with other organisations to conserve and renew the nation’s most important landscapes.

Experiences of our places that move, teach and inspire

  • People’s tastes are changing and their expectations continue to grow. We will work harder to give our visitors experiences that are emotionally rewarding, intellectually stimulating and inspire them to support our cause.
  • We will invest in major changes at our most visited houses to transform how we tell the story of why the place mattered in the past and why it matters today.

Helping to look after the places people live

  • Budget cuts mean that many public green spaces enjoyed by local communities are now under threat. The Trust will explore what role it could play in helping safeguard their future.
  • We will also look at ways of supporting local heritage impacted by spending cuts and play a leadership role in the annual Heritage Open Days, the country’s most popular heritage event.
Maritime heather, (Erica vagans) in flower in August and view of Cornish coastline from Kynance Cove, The Lizard, Cornwall

Maritime heather, (Erica vagans) in flower in August and view of Cornish coastline from Kynance Cove, The Lizard, Cornwall. Copyright National Trust.

Helen Ghosh, the Trust’s Director General, said: “The protection of our natural environment and historic places over the past 100 years has been core to the work of the Trust but it has never been just about looking after our own places.

“The natural environment is in poor health, compromised by decades of unsustainable management and under pressure from climate change. Wildlife has declined, over-worked soils are washing out to sea; villages and towns are flooded.

“Millions of people love and cherish the great outdoors, it’s vital to our sense of well-being, our identity and our health. But beyond that nature also supports us in all kinds of other ways, from flood protection to carbon storage. We can’t keep taking it for granted.

“Our strategy calls on the National Trust to respond to these threats and play its part in new ways: achieving a step change in how we look after our own countryside, and reaching out to partners and communities beyond our boundaries to meet the challenges we face at this moment in our history.

“This is a long-term commitment, for the benefit of generations to come: we know that many of our changes will take thirty years or more.”

Chairman Tim Parker added: “We can’t solve these issues on our own. Our strategy will see us working more collaboratively with a range of partners to explore new approaches and find new solutions. We will support where we can and lead where we should.

“The National Trust has always responded to the challenges of the time. I believe our founders would be proud of our ambitions and the part we plan to play.”

So that members can make the most of their membership, most properties will be moving to being open 364 days a year.  Members and supporters will get more personalised information from the Trust about events and activities, and be able to get much better information on digital channels about the places and subjects that interest them.


1] State of Nature Report, RSPB and others (2013)