Recently the National Trust has been asked why it cares about climate change. After all, is it not all about tea, cake and fine interiors? Very simply; climate change has implications in just about everything that the Trust does, not just in caring for buildings but our coastlines, farmland and people too. And the problem is not only one of immediate physical damage, the consequences of events such as flooding or an increase in pests such as moths have a financial, cultural and emotional impact that is harder quantify and plan for. Of course it is possible to identify areas at risk and interventions, such as new drainage systems, can be implemented. But the long term ramifications of a tenant having their home flooded, as happened to Morden Valley Farmhouse, Cotehele, Devon in 2006, or the silver fish eating around the patterns on William Morris wall paper at Standen, means that the National Trust cannot just sit back and eat cake.
The issue is no longer one of whether we accept climate change as a reality, but instead how we plan and implement constructive changes to our practises, optimising the opportunities and minimising the risks. The Trust has already committed to reducing the use of fossil fuels and producing 50% of it’s energy requirements from renewable sources by 2020. Over 150 renewable installations are already in place, some in very sensitive sites, and these include hydro, solar and wind.
On a day to day basis the people who care for our special places are dealing with the immediate consequences of the changing climate, from storm damaged trees and disruption to water supplies to increased fire risk on moorland due to extended periods of drought. Coastal erosion is going to affect 60% of Trust owned coast line and our historic buildings are struggling with everything from flooding and driven rain to mould and moths.
It would be wrong, however, to think that our staff and volunteers are just fire fighting the onslaught from storm and tempest foul. With teams of passionate and dedicated people working in every area, we are proactive and positive about the change we can create. We are committed to sharing our experiences with our visitors, supporters, policy makers, funders and industry as we learn how to ‘grow our own’ energy in amazing places. We hope that our experience can help give people greater confidence to make changes in the way they think about energy, and the way they use it.
Over the next few weeks this blog is going explore the impacts of climate change on National Trust sites and showcase the many ways our people are working hard to make them Fit for the Future. See you next week for a more in-depth look at our coastline.
Want to know more about our renewables programe? Try reading National Trust Going Green Blog :
By Morwenna Slade