Landscapes and historic gardens feel the heat as National Trust calls for greater action on climate change - National Trust

Record-breaking temperatures and prolonged dry weather are affecting the nation’s cherished landscapes, gardens and wildlife, causing historic water features to dry up, sparking wildfires and taking a toll on animals, according to the National Trust.

With temperatures rising again this week, and after the driest July on record for parts of England, the conservation charity says this summer’s exceptional conditions are a wake-up call to cut emissions and adapt.

In the East of England, where temperatures hit 40c last month, 60-70% of heather at the rare lowland heath site of Dunwich Heath is struggling to flower. Further west, on Dartmoor, some tree-growing lichen, liverwort and mosses that usually thrive in the damp atmosphere of Lydford Gorge, a site of globally important temperate rainforest, are shrivelling due to a lack of humidity.

Elsewhere, rills and water features in some historic gardens dried up during July's heatwave, while a pond dipping event at Brimham Rocks in Yorkshire was cancelled after the 15-metre-long pool almost vanished. At Wallington in Northumberland, bats were found disoriented and dehydrated in the daylight during the hottest days, while in Cambridgeshire, a waterwheel that powers a flour mill has had to stop turning due to low river flows.

Much of the country remains tinder-dry with fire risk reaching ‘exceptional’ levels in beauty spots like the Peak District last month. Several wildfires have broken out on Trust land in recent weeks, including one in Devon that has taken two months to fully extinguish.

The charity is continuing to respond to the current hot and dry conditions and adapt its places for long-term changes, with strategies such as selecting drought-resistant plants in its gardens, increasing tree cover and shade, and creating wetlands.

At the Holnicote Estate in Somerset, where beavers were reintroduced in 2020, wetland habitats are still thriving, despite low river levels. Holding more water in landscapes will become increasingly important as the climate changes, the Trust says.

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Posted On: 10/08/2022

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