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The National Trust: 125 years of nature, beauty and history

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125 years

In 2020 the Trust will be sharing ideas and inspiration to help people connect with nature (National Trust Images Rob Coleman)
In 2020 the Trust will be sharing ideas and inspiration to help people connect with nature (National Trust Images Rob Coleman)

2020 is the 125th anniversary of the National Trust, the biggest conservation charity in Europe.

Founded in 1895 to care for historic properties, areas of beautiful countryside and to provide access to green spaces for everyone, the Trust now cares for over 500 places of national significance, including houses, gardens and monuments, and 780 miles of coastline.

Octavia Hill, Sir Robert Hunter and Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley – the triumvirate who founded the National Trust – all believed in the profound effects of access to nature, to beauty and to history. Their aim was not only to save important sites, but to look after them for everyone to enjoy in the years to come. From this trio of environmental pioneers, the National Trust was created – and their original values are still at the heart of everything the charity does 125 years later.

Nature in a time of crisis

Never more so has nature been needed than during this time of global crisis brought on by the coronavirus.

The crowds of people who visited National Trust places the weekend before lockdown and the thousands of photos posted on social media as part of the Trust’s #BlossomWatch campaign showed the importance of trees, wildlife and open skies in our lives.

Just a few weeks later, spring diary entries received from around the UK revealed a nation turning to nature for comfort and solace during a time of unprecedented uncertainty - with descriptions of birdsong and blossom by people in self-isolation, sightings of wildlife through windows, and reflections on health and family.

The Trust has existed during some of the darkest days the country has ever faced – and will continue to be there for the benefit of the nation throughout this crisis.

It will provide access to green space, wherever it is safe to do so, while bringing those people who are unable to leave the house closer to their favourite places via its digital channels. It will keep pushing the Government to deliver green infrastructure and ensure more people have access to nature-rich space. And it will continue caring for places of nature, beauty and history, like it has done for over a century.

Evidence shows that noticing nature can have a positive effect on wellbeing (National Trust Images & Rod Coleman)
Evidence shows that noticing nature can have a positive effect on wellbeing (National Trust Images & Rod Coleman)

The Trust’s founder Octavia Hill said: “We all want quiet. We all want beauty... We all need space. Unless we have it, we cannot reach that sense of quiet in which whispers of better things come to us gently.”

And that is needed as much today as it was 125 years ago.

Green ambitions

The Trust also needs to rise to the challenge of the climate crisis and the catastrophic decline in our natural environment.

To mark its 125 years, and to address these twin crises, the Trust has set itself big ambitions, including tree-planting on a national scale to tackle climate change, reducing our carbon footprint and restoring peatlands.

2020 is also an opportunity to inspire people to connect with nature in their everyday life.

Today, evidence shows a correlation between people’s connection with nature and their wellbeing, and that a strong connection with nature is an important factor in whether people take action to protect and help the natural environment.

Throughout the year the conservation charity will be sharing stories, actions and content to help people notice the nature around them.

Find out more on www.nationaltrust.org.uk

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