Forecast Changeable – new report on how climate change is affecting our places

Our new report ‘Forecast Changeable’ shows how climate change is a growing conservation challenge to our land, collections, houses and gardens.

View of the south and east fronts of Lacock Abbey, reflected in flood water in the Abbey grounds

View of the south and east fronts of Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire, reflected in flood water in the Abbey grounds, winter 2013/14. ©National Trust Images/James Dobson

The report illustrates how we have had to explore new ways to manage our properties in the face of a changing climate. Some have become damaged by rainwater and flooding and our gardens are increasingly affected by drought and disease.

The effects of these changes are not confined to one region; they are in evidence across the country. For example, at Nymans in West Sussex, drought issues meant water storage capacity had to be doubled to 80,000 litres. Increased demand necessitated that this be raised to 150,000 litres. Because the system ran dry this summer we must again increase capacity so if it stops raining in April, the garden has enough water to last through the summer.

Cows cooling in the water of Broomlee Lough, Northumberland during the drought of July 2006

Cows cooling in the water of Broomlee Lough, Northumberland during the drought of July 2006. British breeds can suffer in extreme heat and if summers continue to be hot and dry, farmers may have to switch to Southern European cattle. ©National Trust Images/Simon Fraser

The Plant Conservation Centre, which is responsible for grafting and propagating important collections for our gardens, has become a victim of warmer winters. The period of time available for grafting has been cut in half, making the procedure only possible in the cooler periods from January to March. A second facility was opened to accommodate the climatic change.

And at the Vyne in Hampshire, because of wetter weather and intense rainfall, water leaked through the windows into some of the most historically important rooms in the mansion. This damaged six Soho tapestries, dating to 1710, which cost £60,000 to repair. Major renovation work is now needed to protect this Grade I listed mansion and its contents from further damage.

Water from the overflowing lake surrounding the house, during the July 2007 flooding at The Vyne, Hampshire.

Water from the overflowing lake surrounding the house, during the July 2007 flooding at The Vyne, Hampshire.
©National Trust Images/John Hammond

There are other financial costs of increasingly extreme weather events. The number of insurance claims we have made increased from three in 2005, to seven in 2015. Over the past decade, our monthly claim values have risen more than fourfold.

These examples show how we must drive innovation in order to adapt to unpredicted changes in our climate. We’ve recently joined the Climate Coalition, the UK’s largest group of people dedicated to action on climate change. We have also set ourselves challenging energy targets and are committed to reducing our carbon emissions whilst sharing lessons learned with others. It is now time for political leaders to deliver a joined up approach to emissions reduction to address the impacts of climate change.

Read our Forecast Changeable Report to find out more.

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