More than 18,000 hectares of woodland – an area roughly one and a half the size of Manchester – will be established across the UK by the National Trust in the next decade, as the organisation seeks to achieve ‘net zero’ carbon emissions 20 years before the country at large.

The Trust will work with sustainability advisors Carbon Intelligence to drastically reduce its climatic impacts through restructuring its value chain and improving carbon sequestration on the vast swathes of land it owns. The institution will not rely on the purchase of carbon offsets in other countries to achieve its aim, unlike many large corporations making similar pledges.

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(L-R) Lead ranger Carole Burnett, director general Hilary McGrady and area ranger Victoria Stanfield talking about veteran trees at Leigh Woods near Bristol © National Trust Images

 

“The National Trust protects and cares for places so people and nature can thrive. But these places are under threat from climate change and responding to this threat is a top priority for the Trust,” Lizzy Carlyle, head of environmental practices at the National Trust, said.

“Our carbon target, which underlies our climate change programme, is ambitious, taking into account emissions across the entire value chain. Our programme includes setting and achieving 1.5°C aligned science-based targets, and plans to unlock investment, drive innovation and implement best practice across our operations.

“With our 9,000 staff, 65,000 volunteers, close to six million members and 27 million visitors last year, we are the biggest conservation charity in Europe. We want all of our supporters to get involved in conserving those things that are under threat from climate change – nature, beauty and heritage, everyone can make a difference. We want to use our experience in moving to net zero to inspire others to follow suit.”

The tree planting initiative alone can, according to Carbon Intelligence, offset the equivalent of 37,000 UK households’ annual emissions.


Fighting back

The National Trust has first hand experience of the detrimental impact of climate change on the natural landscapes it oversees. The organisation is in no mood to accept this as an inevitability.

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Will Jenkins, associate director of Carbon Intelligence, stated: “The ambition and credibility behind National Trust’s net zero target puts it in a position of leadership. The charity has chosen to take responsibility to reduce and mitigate all carbon emissions that occur right across its value chain, from its supplier’s operations, the companies it invests in and the properties it leases to its tenants. It has the rare opportunity to balance any remaining emissions by removing carbon from the atmosphere using the land it owns and manages.”

The Trust’s progress in terms of emissions and removals will be calculated on an annual basis according to the Green House Gas Protocol International standards. Its 1.5°C aligned science-based target will also be submitted for independent validation by the Science Based Targets initiative.

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