Thousands of National Trust sites are at risk from climate change

Thousands of National Trust sites are at risk from climate change as floods, humidity and higher temperatures could pose hazard at locations such as Ham House and Lyme Park, bosses say

  • National Trust has developed ‘game-changing’ map to illustrate the risks 
  • Without action on emissions, the number of sites at highest level from climate change could be more than treble to next 40 years 
  • The likes of Ham House on the Thames, Lyme Park in Cheshire and Birling Gap in East Sussex are all feared to be in danger

Floods, humidity and rising temperatures caused by climate change threaten thousands of National Trust sites, the charity warns today.

It has developed a ‘game-changing’ map to illustrate the risks facing some of its most famous and culturally significant sites.

The tool is based on a ‘worst-case scenario’ failure to drive down carbon emissions over the coming decades, and highlights potential hazards in specific locations.  

The likes of Ham House on the Thames, Lyme Park in Cheshire and Birling Gap in East Sussex are all feared to be in danger. 

Floods, humidity and rising temperatures caused by climate change threaten thousands of National Trust sites, the charity warns today. Pictured: The Cherry Garden at Ham House on the Thames, which is at risk from climate change

The likes of Ham House on the Thames, Lyme Park in Cheshire (pictured) and Birling Gap in East Sussex are all feared to be in danger

Birling Gap near Eastbourne is feared to be in danger as a result of the effects of climate change

The map suggests that, without action on emissions, the number of National Trust sites in areas at the highest threat level from climate change could more than treble to 11,462 over the next 40 years. 

And the number of sites at high or medium risk of climate-related hazards could increase from 20,457 – 30 per cent of sites – to 47,888 – or 71 per cent of sites – by 2060.

Identifying areas at risk will allow the charity to pinpoint locations that could need interventions such as tree planting or peat bog restoration.

The map will ensure that, under a commitment to plant 20million trees to tackle climate change, the plants will go to the places they are needed the most.

The map suggests that, without action on emissions, the number of National Trust sites in areas at the highest threat level from climate change could more than treble to 11,462 over the next 40 years. Pictured: Malham Tarn in Yorkshire is at risk 

Identifying areas at risk will allow the charity to pinpoint locations, such as Long Mynd in Shropshire (pictured), that could need interventions such as tree planting or peat bog restoration

Heat and high water: Places said to be in peril 

Ham House, Richmond Could face 40C (104F) heat by 2040. Heat-tolerant plants are already being grown and garden working hours have shifted to avoid summer afternoon heat

Lyme Park, Cheshire It was hit by a major flood in 2019. A team is now planting trees on moorland to slow the flow of water and reduce flooding risks

Malham Tarn, Yorkshire Dales The 18th century barn collapsed due to soil shrinkage. Workers can now plant more trees and certain plants to manage the water table

Birling Gap, East Sussex In 2014 the chalk cliffs suffered seven years’ worth of erosion in just two months. This will increase with more storms, rainfall and higher sea levels

Long Mynd, Shropshire Up to 75 per cent of heather has been lost due to summer drought and damage from heather beetles, which thrive in warm weather

Projections suggest high heat and humidity will hit the South-East of England, with a third of National Trust sites in the region experiencing at least 15 days above 30C (86F) a year. 

It is also predicted that storm damage, landslides and flooding will become more common and widespread, particularly in the North of England and Wales.

Coastal erosion and flooding will increase in Northern Ireland, potentially leading to more landslides around locations such as the Giant’s Causeway.

National Trust director for land and nature Harry Bowell said: ‘This map is a game-changer in how we face the threat climate change poses to the places we care for. 

‘While the data draws on a worst-case scenario, the map paints a stark picture of what we have to prepare for. But by acting now, and working with nature, we can adapt to many of these risks.’

The analysis draws together research from a number of sources, including official UK Climate Projections.

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