The National Trust has developed a “game changing” map that illustrates the threat climate change poses to some of its most iconic and culturally significant sites – and offers some solutions on how to tackle it.
It is the first map of its kind that plots data in this way and will help the charity identify the hazard level facing its countryside locations, monuments, coastlines and historical sites in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
By plotting its places alongside existing data on climate change related events, the charity is able to understand how, at a local scale, potential risk factors (extreme heat and humidity, flooding, landslides, coastal erosion, soil heave and high winds) could change by 2060.
Working to a worst-case model of no intervention on emissions, the map is intended to be used as a “flagging tool” to highlight potential hazards to the locality of a site.
By identifying areas at risk, the charity can pinpoint locations that may need interventions like tree planting to slow water run-off, peat bog restoration to hold back water, river restoration or areas that need more shade due to extreme heat.
The data will be used by the charity to look at risks to the landscape, with landowners working together to engage local communities to volunteer in their area and help in the fight.
The National Trust is already taking measures to try and tackle the threat posed by climate change by planting or establishing 20 million trees – an area the size of Birmingham - and becoming carbon net zero by 2030.
This map will ensure trees are planted in the places and where they are most needed, with 50,000 having been planted in the last 12 months including in north Devon, Lancashire, north Wales and Dorset.
The next phase of the project will build on work already undertaken to identify and act in areas in which homes for wildlife are at risk and where species reintroduction like beavers may help the environment.
It could also see government bodies from England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland plot the heritage locations they care for to illustrate the threat to the whole UK historic environment.
Coastal areas at risk of collapse or sand dune movements due to rising sea levels will also be highlighted in the future, which will also enable more informed solutions.
Water or heat adaptive building materials will be used in areas shown as high risk from flooding or rising temperatures and humidity, or even inform where to build if an area is prone to soil heave.