Forecast Changeable 2015
Forecast Changeable 2015
National Trust and climate change The National Trust looks after special places and maintains them for ever, for everyone. Our mission is to save places of historic interest and natural beauty for the benefit of the nation. It’s a cause that is now actively supported by over four million members and 60,000 volunteers.
The desire to ‘protect’ somewhere is usually triggered by a clear and compelling threat. We were founded in 1895 as an open spaces body, established to protect the countryside at a time when our towns and cities were growing at unprecedented levels. Many historic houses came into our care after the difficulties faced by large estate owners in the middle of the 20th century. This meant that our attention shifted towards country houses and their associated parks, gardens and collections. In 1965 we started our Neptune campaign, to save coastlines in their natural state.
‘The impacts of climate change are clear to see at Trust places, whether from increasingly erratic weather events or from long-term changes in temperature and rainfall distribution affecting countryside and buildings, gardens and collections. The risk of permanent damage to landscape and heritage as a result of not planning for a future with a radically different climate is ever increasing’ Helen Ghosh, Director-General
In memory of Alan Watson Written and researched by Dr Mark Roberts, James Lloyd and Jenna Hopkinson With thanks to Rob Jarman and Alan Watson for their work on the original Forecast Changeable Report in 2005
Yet we are facing new threats in the 21st century that require new forms of response. By far the biggest of these is also the most insidious and sometimes the hardest to fully comprehend: the threats arising from man-made climate change. This climate change has incurred a number of environmental consequences, for example an increase in temperature, increased intensity of weather events and a change to the pattern of rainfall.1 We first set out our views on climate change in 1995, since then our work on climate change has been reported in various ways, in A Call for the Wild in 1999, Forecast? – Changeable! in 2006, From Source to Sea in 2008, Energy – Grow Your Own in 2010 and Shifting Shores in 2015.
Cover: Buttermere, Lake District, Cumbria. National Trust Images/David Noton Left: Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire. National Trust Images/James Dobson.
Our strategy document Playing Our Part, published in 2015, recognised that climate change now poses the single biggest threat to the places we look after, bringing new, damaging impacts to a natural and cultural environment already under pressure, and a growing conservation challenge to our houses and gardens. Recognising the strategic need to understand and respond to the risks from climate change, this report brings together a collection of case studies to demonstrate the impact a changing climate has on the places in our care and the practical steps we are taking to adapt to it, and mitigate its impact. We take a very long term view of the places we are responsible for. A changing climate has meant changing conservation priorities. We have set targets that balance the need to reduce the energy we use and the need to generate our own renewable energy which will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also demonstrate how it is possible to work in tune with the precious landscape in our care. By showing practical ways of generating renewable energy and reducing energy consumption without compromising the beauty and natural integrity of those places, we hope to demonstrate that we can take action to mitigate the impact of climate change, and pass on our places for future generations to enjoy.
1 IPCC, 2013: Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Stocker, T.F., D. Qin, G.K. Plattner, M. Tignor, S.K. Allen, J. Boschung, A. Nauels, Y. Xia, V. Bex and P.M. Midgley (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, 1535 pp, doi:10.1017/CBO9781107415324. http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg1/#.UlKaBGTF0kt
Forecast Changeable 2015
Along with reducing our energy consumption by 20 per cent, the National Trust is investing £30 million into a programme of renewable energy schemes to secure half of our energy from our own renewable sources by 2020. We also have a strategy to deliver a programme to protect the carbon within our soils and make our landscapes more effective in how they can reduce their impact on climate change. However, this is only half the story. Even with very ambitious efforts to cut carbon emissions, some impacts of climate change are already locked in for many decades ahead. This will have an impact on every part of the Trust’s business from our houses to our landscapes, our collections to our nature conservation. It will impact on what we procure, invest in and the projects we deliver, from the mountains to the sea. Understanding the impacts of climate change and implementing a robust action plan will be vital to securing a successful National Trust now and into the next century.
What aspects of the climate are changing in the UK? Day to day weather in the UK is notoriously changeable. Climate is the long-term trends in patterns of weather, observed through data. There is a growing body of evidence that shows climate is changing over the long term.2 These changes to climate will have an impact on our places. Temperatures are the most obvious area of change. Global average surface temperatures have risen nearly 0.85˚C since the late 19th century. In the past 25 years the pace of change has quickened, such that temperatures are now rising at about 0.16 ˚C per decade.3
Main image: Broomlee Lough, Northumberland. National Trust Images/Simon Fraser.
Temperatures in the UK peaked at 38.5 ºC in the extreme summer heatwave of 2003.4 This was estimated at the time to be a one in a thousand years event. It is now considered that such temperatures will be experienced once every hundred years. By the 2040s the summer of 2003 may be expected to happen every other year and by the 2080s it will be classed as a cold summer.5 2014 was the warmest year in the UK since records began in 1910.6 The average temperature in 2014 was 9.9 ºC, 0.2 ºC higher than the previous record set in 2006. It means that eight of the UK’s top ten warmest years have occurred since 2002. Below is a summary of the main projections.7
Climate change projections in the UK9
Warmer drier summers
Fewer days with frost
More intense downpours
Rising sea levels
More very hot days
Milder wetter winters
2 I Jenkins, G.J., Perry, M.C., and Prior, M.J. (2008). The climate of the United Kingdom and recent trends. Met Office Hadley Centre, Exeter, UK
6 http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/news/releases/archive/2015/ RecordUKtemps2014.
3 http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessmentreport/ar5/wg1/WG1AR5_ Chapter02_FINAL.pdf
8 Sabbioni, C., Brimblecombe, P., Cassar, M. The Atlas of Climate Change Impact on European Cultural Heritage: Scientific Analysis and Management Strategies 2010. London. Anthem Press
4 A record high of 38.5 ºC was recorded in Brogdale in Kent on 10 August 2003 5 Christidis, N., G. S. Jones, and P. A. Stott, 2015. Dramatically increasing chance of extremely hot summers since the 2003 European heatwave, Nature Climate Change, 5, 46-50.
7 The table is based on © UK Climate Projections 2009
9 UKCP09 Briefing Report: http://ukclimateprojections.metoffice. gov.uk/media.jsp?mediaid=87868&filetype=pdf and the maps of projections: http://ukclimateprojections.metoffice.gov.uk/21708 specifically
Forecast Changeable 2015
2014 was the fourth wettest year on record in the UK; five of the UK’s top six wettest years have happened since 2000. Total annual average precipitation over England and Wales has not changed significantly since rainfall records began in 1766, but the seasonal variations appear to show that rain is now less likely in summer and more likely in winter. Heavier, more intense, winter downpours of rain have been recorded in all regions of the UK in the past 45 years.10 Severe storms around the UK have become more intense11 in the past few decades, although the numbers of storms we now experience are not above those recorded in the 1920s12. Global sea-level rise has accelerated between mid-19th century and mid-20th century, and is now about 3mm per year13. Average sea-surface temperatures around the UK coast have risen over the past three decades by about 0.7 ºC. When storms coincide with high tides we experience events such as the storm surge of December 2013 and the winter of 2013/14. The UK experienced one of its most prolonged periods of exceptional weather for more than a century. A high sea level can increase the impact of the storm surge. There were several gales with winds peaking at 80mph, and it was the wettest January since 1766.14
What is the impact on the National Trust? The National Trust is well placed to see many of the impacts of climate change that are already occurring in the UK. We care for a huge variety of buildings, gardens, large areas of open countryside, more than 750 miles of coastline, parklands and other heritage assets; all of which are being affected by climate change, in some places more strongly than others. Understanding the long term impact of changes in climate upon the places in our care is of great interest and concern. We are seeing more intense heavy downpours and gales which can have both conservation and financial implications. Coastal sites we look after bear the brunt of the intense storms. The chalk cliffs at Birling Gap erode by about 67cm (about 2 ft/y) each year. During the 2014 storms of 2013/14 seven years’ worth of erosion took place in just a couple of months. The beach at Formby Point is the fastest eroding stretch of coastline we look after. It’s predicted an average of 4m a year will be lost to the sea in the next century but during the storms over three years’ worth of erosion took place with 13m lost.
10 http://ukclimateprojections.metoffice.gov.uk/media. jsp?mediaid=87932& 11 Maraun D, Osborn TJ and Gillett NP (2008) United Kingdom Daily Precipitation Intensity: Improved Early Data, Error Estimates and an Update from 2000 to 2006. International Journal of Climatology, 28(6), 833-842 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/joc.1672/ abstract;jsessionid=F6018BDC39428F73EDA5600F16BFC0C1. f01t04 12 http://ukclimateprojections.metoffice.gov.uk/media. jsp?mediaid=87932&filetype=pdf
Massive waves pounded the breakwaters at Mullion Cove, causing significant surface damage. Thanks to work carried out to strengthen the breakwaters the harbour survived the 2014 storms when others suffered extensive damage. We plan to carry on repairing Mullion Harbour until the time comes when such damage occurs that repairs are no longer viable. The summer floods of 200715 had a costly impact across the Trust and cast a long lasting shadow. Coughton Court in Warwickshire was flooded by the River Arrow for only the second time in its 600 year history. The house remained shut for seven weeks, losing revenue from an estimated 20,000 visitors. A large operation took place to save the contents, but some damage was unavoidable and required repair. In the same year storms flooded countless buildings such as Charlecote Park and properties in Buscot village. Torrential rain at Calke Abby resulted in water ingress through the roof as rainwater goods were overwhelmed causing damage to wallpaper, decorative surfaces, paintings, books, furniture, carpets and floors. At the same time flash-flood water entered the property at ground floor level.
Right: Kitchen Garden at Tyntesfield, Wraxall, North Somerset. National Trust Images/Stephen Robson.
13 The climate projections state seal level will rise significantly over the coming 100 years. Central estimates suggest a rise of between 36 cm by 2080 with a worst case scenario of 1.9 m. The UKCP 09 projections also show a tendency toward more storms, and more storm surges.
Also in 2014 at Blakeney Point Norfolk, the Lifeboat House and Brancaster Activity Centre were flooded, a bridge at Morston Quay was swept away and the severe tidal surges changed the beach profile, forcing little terns to nest in low areas which were then flooded by high tides in June. Atlantic grey seal pups were also displaced, though thankfully most were reunited with their mothers.
15 http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/about-us/who/how/case-studies/ summer-2007
Forecast Changeable 2015
Also in 2007 much of Hidcote Manor Gardens were left under water which has contributed to an increase in pests and diseases afterwards. Other storms in 2007 have resulted in the loss of parkland trees that stood for hundreds of years at sites like Nostell Priory, Hardwick Hall and Polesden Lacey. These patterns are reflected by the rise in the number of our insurance claims for storm and flood damage. The Trust claimed £1.5 million after the 2007 floods and just over £2 million after the winter storms of 2013/14. This chart demonstrates the direct correlation between extreme events and the value claimed through insurance. We are seeing more claims resulting from extreme events with a greater distribution of these claims across the country. There is an upward trend in the number of claims made per month, from 3 in 2005, to 7 in 2015. Our monthly claim value has risen from £25,000 per month in 2005, up to £110,000 per month in 2015 (accentuated by the winter storms of 2013/4).
Even taking account of inflation this upward trend still has concerning long term financial implications for us. This is reflected in the wider assessment of the impacts of climate change on the insurance industry.16 Rory Cullen, National Trust Head of Buildings says: ‘Only by understanding how climate is changing can we plan effectively for its impact on our buildings, minimising future damage from increasingly intense weather.’
Right: Water from the overflowing lake surrounding the house, during the July 2007 flooding at The Vyne, Hampshire. National Trust Images/John Hammond.
NationalTrust TrustInsurance Insurance - Monthly Claim - Floods and Storms National - Monthly Claim - Floods and Storms £1400k
Wiltshire Flash Flood
Winter Storms 2013/14
April to July - Record Rainfall
Nov/Dec - Storm & Strong Winds
Nov/Dec - Floods & Snow
Jan - Snow & Low Temp
Nov - Lake District Floods
Sept/Oct Rain & Thunderstorms
March - Strong Stormy Wind
June/July - Flood
£400k £200k £k
January April July October January April July October January April July October January April July October January April July October January April July October January April July October January April July October January April July October January April July October
16 The impact of climate change on the UK insurance sector - A Climate Change Adaptation Report by the Prudential Regulation Authority, September 2015 http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/pra/ Documents/supervision/activities/pradefra0915.pdf
Forecast Changeable 2015
Houses and collections
Wetter winters and more intense rainfall make our buildings more susceptible to flooding and water damage. Mansions were not always designed to manage large volumes of water and take it away from their roofs. So we need to make buildings of all sizes and ages more resilient or accommodating to flooding and other extreme weather events. Many of the buildings we are adapting are listed, but from the Trust’s point of view, adaption while maintaining the historic significance, is greatly preferable to incremental damage.
Stuart Maughan, General Manager at The Vyne says: ‘On the west facing side of the mansion water has been coming through the windows into some of our most historically important rooms. In the Oak gallery the issue has been caused by ill-fitted windows and the wind driving in the rain due to the brickwork and wood reaching their saturation points. The water ingress has damaged six Soho tapestries, dating to 1710, which were consequently removed from display and needed £60k of remedial work. A major project is earmarked to take place in 2016 to address these issues in order to protect this Grade I listed mansion and its contents from further damage.’
During major restoration work to Greys Court between 2006 and 2009 we forecast the effects of climate change, building them into the specification of the works.
We hold valuable and culturally important collections inside our houses. Wetter winters will increase the vulnerability of these collections to mould growth and infestations of pest invertebrates such as silverfish and spider beetle. We will need to change the way we manage our buildings and our collections to head off this risk.
‘We improved the efficiency of the buildings to save energy and increased the water capacity on downpipes for heavy rain storms. The work we carried out almost 10 years ago was really forward thinking and we’re still keen to share our knowledge and experience’
Paul Holden, Collections Manager at Lanhydrock says: ‘While research into the history of Lanhydrock house indicated that damp was not a new problem, the discovery of mould and spider beetle in the rare book collection held within the Long Gallery prompted an investigation into the heating and systems we use to control the environment. Our intention is to achieve a constant relative humidity within the room even in the face of a more changeable external environment. As a result we make regular checks and have implemented new environmental controls which monitor and react to the problems. We have put in damp proofing on book pressers with the aim of protecting the many bibliographical rarities, and other valuable collections, held within the library. But this careful control comes at a cost in terms of the energy needed to keep humidity stable’.
Laura Gangadeen, House Manager at Greys Court
Right: Oak Gallery at the Vyne. National Trust Images/ Helen Sanderson/ Andreas von Einsiedel. Top: Internal plaster coming away from the inside of the roof void above the Oak Gallery at the Vyne. National Trust Images/Helen Sanderson.
Forecast Changeable 2015
‘The summer months are projected to become drier, raising the risk of drought’
Philip Holmes, Gardener at Nymans
Philip Holmes, Gardener on site at Nymans for 45 years, says: ‘We have definitely experienced wetter winters and episodes of more intense rainfall over recent years. ‘We have also experienced significant drought issues as a result of both the climate and because of the nature of the free draining sandy loam soils. A key aspect of our gardening is to use less water and improve our ability to harvest and store more rain water. In 2007 we doubled our storage capacity from 40,000 to 80,000 litres. Due to increasing demand this was increased to 150,000 litres. In 2015 this system ran dry for the first time in seven years. Plans are now in place to increase capacity again so if it stops raining in April the garden has enough water to last through the summer until September, when hopefully it will start to rain again.’ David Swanton, Garden Operations Manager at Powis Castle says: ‘A few years ago a hot dry summer spurred on the issue of drought – therefore measures were taken to ensure water supply during these dry spells. Some south east facing parts of the garden get very hot and they have been adapted with long thin borders. Roses used to grow here but we have made changes and now this area is occupied by Mediterranean plants.’
Left: Nymans, West Sussex National Trust Images/Stephen Robson
Box blight, a fungus, usually manifests itself in the autumn. It then rests until it sporulates in the spring. However Ickworth in 2014 experienced box-blight from mid-winter. This was unusual, but the weather in 2014 had been particularly mild. Box-blight affects of the majority of Ickworth’s box hedging. Our £700,000 biosecure Plant Conservation Centre is not a normal National Trust property. This is a working facility providing specialist support for all 200 National Trust gardens across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Nursery Manager Chris Trimmer explains how climate change has had an impact on the centre’s work: ‘One crucial aspect of our work is grafting and propagating important collections for National Trust gardens. Grafting can only happen during the winter when the sap has stopped flowing through the plant. Traditionally the work normally starts in November and finishes in April. Over the past decade warmer winters have reduced the grafting period from January to March resulting in a second grafting facility being built to accommodate the number of plants that need to be grafted in this much shorter period.’ Below left: South front of the C16th house with its two tiers of five-faced bay windows & a porch probably added after the original building. National Trust Images/ Matthew Antrobus. Below: Box hedge at Ickworth, Suffolk after removal of infected box blight fungus. National trust Images/Ray Dale.
Forecast Changeable 2015
Nature and the outdoors The countryside has been damaged by decades of poor land management. Intensive farming coupled with climate change has undermined the long-term health of the land. As a changing climate increases the likelihood of flooding, we are looking, where possible, to use natural processes within the catchment to afford the long term protection it needs for special places. Simon Pryor, National Trust Natural Environment Director says: ‘We have recently launched an ambitious plan to nurse the natural environment back to health and reverse the alarming decline in wildlife we have seen over the last few decades17. We need to make sure that the “raw materials” of our landscapes – soil, water and air – are in good condition, and that the natural processes which keep them functioning are able to work as they should. A threadbare landscape is not going to be resilient or accommodating. We need to make sure our landscapes and the wildlife within it are buffered from the impacts of rapid climate change, and are also able to gradually change and adapt. This is as true for the wildlife as it is for us humans, as we all depend on a healthy natural environment. ‘One change is that we need to think on a much bigger scale. This will increasingly see us join forces with other nature conservation charities, national and local government, business, local communities and landowners to improve the quality of the land, how it connects together and attracts the wildlife back to the fields, woods and river banks where it belongs.17’ 17 http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/cs/Satellite?blobcol=urldata& blobheader=application/ pdf& blobkey=id&blobtabl e=MungoBlobs&blobwhere=1349129524981&ssbinary=true pdf&blobkey=id&blobtable=MungoBlobs &blobwhere=1349129524981&ssbinary=true
Top: Poor management of land can mean water running off field quickly causing flooding and pollution. Peter Worrall (Penny Anderson Associates) Bottom: Flood Meadows temporarily store and hold back water allowing it to rejoin the river in a slow controlled way. National Trust Images/Nigel Hester. Right: A flood bund with grill allowing for a slow release of water. National Trust Images/Nigel Hester.
Holnicote Estate, West Somerset The Holnicote Estate in Somerset consists of nearly 5,000 hectares of Exmoor National Park. It is a diverse landscape made up of wild moorland, ancient woodland, rivers, a pebble beach, saltmarsh, villages and fourteen farms. A multi-objective flood management project is underway at Holnicote, supported by The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs and the Environment Agency, and managed by the National Trust. The project aims to demonstrate that, by working at the catchment scale and changing some land management practices, a natural approach to flood management can be achieved while producing wider environmental and community benefits. Results have shown that interventions to retain and slow down water upstream can both protect communities downstream and provide opportunities for creating new and improved habitats for many species. By holding water at strategic locations so that it was released slowly after intense and prolonged periods of rain in 2013/14, flooding was prevented in the nearby villages of Allerford and Bossington. Nigel Hester, Projects and Grants Manager at Holnicote says: ‘The Holnicote project aimed to investigate how we can adapt the way we manage land so, using natural processes, the impacts of flooding can be reduced. The winter floods of 2013/14 provided the scheme’s first big test. Whilst flooding in other parts of Somerset was headline news, thanks to our project, cottages that would normally have flooded in the local villages of Bossington and Allerford remained dry and the flow of the streams was manageable.’ For Robert Williams, a sixth-generation cattle and sheep farmer whose land now holds back up to 23m litres of pooled water, the changes to his fields are worth it. ‘When I looked at the plans, I made my mind up pretty sharp: I wouldn’t want to get flooded myself, and my son lives in the village down there.’ He jokes that the slopes of the new 5ft banks have increased the grassgrowing area for his herds.
Forecast Changeable 2015
Wildlife and habitats A changing climate will mean some species and habitats struggle to survive where they usually live over the coming years. Some will be unable to cope or adapt quickly enough to the changes in temperature, wetness and humidity18. Others will be indirectly impacted by changes in their food supply, as the species they feed on decline. Some wildlife will thrive, finding itself better suited to the new conditions, and there may also be incoming species that can now cope with our climate. One way to help our wildlife is to ensure that our habitats are in good condition and are better linked with others so that those species that are able to move can do so. Some species will not be able to extend or shift their ranges to occupy what would be climatically suitable habitats, and for those we need to understand where they are and develop a strategy to help them adapt. Kate Martin, area ranger at Formby says: ‘Natterjack toads usually breed from April to June and have specific breeding conditions - they like shallow ephemeral pools and want a nice wet winter and a wet spring with warm (7ºC) nights. Over the years, with a changing climate, we have slowly lost our natural ephemeral pools due to coastal squeeze. We have since dug artificial pools in the dunes but we have to consider the long term impact to natterjack populations along the Sefton coast. There are big questions to consider and we will need to work in partnership to come up with solutions. ‘The butterflies are on the move. In 2013 the south-east coast experienced an invasion of the rare long-tailed blue on an unprecedented scale, and the continental race of the mighty swallowtail crossed the Channel, bred and then made it through the winter in Sussex to emerge as UK passport-holding butterflies. Then, last July, the scarce or yellow-legged tortoiseshell butterfly reached our east coast in modest numbers. Prior to then, only two specimens had been recorded in the UK.’
‘You will not find an entomologist in Britain who does not believe that climate change is an actuality: too much has happened, too quickly – and it happens first along our coast and in the mountains’ Mathew Oates, National Trust Nature and Wildlife National Specialist
Furthermore, research by Butterfly Conservation indicates that at least 109 species of moths new to the UK have been discovered since 2000, many of them appearing first along the coast. Some 30 of these seem to have established breeding populations. Our fly fauna has increased by 390 species new to the UK since 2000, and currently totals 6,702. There are at least 70 new species of beetles since 2000, 11 new species of bees and wasps, and several new dragonflies. Even allowing for taxonomic splitting, at least a hundred new species have colonised the UK in just 14 years.
Trees and Forests
‘The longevity of trees makes them particularly vulnerable to both gradual change and the extremes of weather’ Ray Hawes National Trust Head of Forestry. We care for a huge number of ancient trees in our woodlands, wood-pastures, parkland and farmland. These have already survived many centuries, but we want them to survive for many more. Predictions of climate change over the next century may seem far distant to us, but they are just another relatively short period of time for these ancient trees. They will have clocked up dozens of ‘once in a century’ floods, storms, droughts and frosts, and are inherently resilient. But our worry is that if future events are more extreme, and more frequent, they will not be able to cope. Where they are in woodlands we are ‘halo thinning’ around the ancient trees to give their crowns space and reduce unwanted competition from younger trees but still provide a sheltered ‘woodland’ micro-climate. On our farmland we need to make sure their root areas are not damaged by cultivation, drainage or stock.
Top: Brancaster Activity Centre focuses on outdoor pursuits and is located at the Dial House, on the North Norfolk Coast. The centre was seriously flooded as a result of the tidal surge which took place on the evening of the 5th December 2013. National Trust Images/Alex Green. Bottom: Flood level at Brancaster activity centre, Norfolk. National Trust Images/Ian Ward.
The other threat from climate change is the growing number of new pests and diseases that are affecting our trees. Some are arriving or appearing naturally, and may be more able to spread due to climate change, but others are brought here by the ever-increasing global trade. Over the last few decades Dutch elm disease, Phytophthora on larch, red band needle blight on pine and ash dieback have devastated at least four species of significance and have also effectively removed these from the already limited palette of trees we can use in any new plantings. There are also dozens of new pests and diseases which are imminent threats. The question we must ask/answer is which trees should we be planting to ensure trees continue to live long into the future and contribute to the requirements of future generations. Some woods such as the sessile oak coppices of Devon, Cornwall, the North West and Wales are particularly vulnerable to change because they are both even-aged and a mono-culture of oak. We are working to diversify both the age structure and species composition of such uniform woods, in order to make them more resilient, to extreme weather events, to gradual change in climate and to new pests and diseases. This will take some time.
Archaeology ‘Storms reveal as well as destroy’- Ian Barnes National Trusts Head of Archaeology says: ‘We in the UK live on an island and by its very definition we are surrounded by the coast and sea. Throughout history the coastline has been a centre of activity, be that for communication, trade, defence, fishing, religious solitude or more recently health and tourism. All these activities, and those found elsewhere across Britain as well as the coast, have left their physical trace as standing monuments and buried archaeological deposits. ‘Over millennia the coastline moves. It erodes in some places and accretes in others. Sites of Roman settlements in the East of England are now far out to sea while medieval harbours such as those at Winchelsea are now inland. Further back in time Palaeolithic remains are found on raised beaches now miles from the sea. Change happens and archaeology can show how the human race and societies have adapted over time. ‘Though change has always happened what is new and worrying is the increasing rate and magnitude due to climate change. Archaeological sites are being exposed and lost, for instance at Rhossili Bay in Wales and at Birling Gap in Sussex, due to our weather becoming more extreme.
Forecast Changeable 2015
Conclusion and recommendations It is abundantly clear to us from across the breadth of places we look after that the impacts of climate change are already increasing, and are a worrying threat to the fragile and venerable places of natural and historic importance that we care for. Conservation is about the management of change. It will not be possible to preserve our properties, collections and landscapes entirely unchanged. We will seek to optimise the opportunities and minimise the risks arising from climate change.
The National Trust has a policy to record and mitigate for any loss of archaeological material on its coastal properties, responses ranging from photography through to full excavation. Unfortunately it seems such work will become more necessary and common but at least the archaeological remains will be understood and their stories told before they are lost to the elements.’
Coast Sea level rise combined with stormier weather from more low pressure systems will mean tidal surges are predicted to take place more often and will have a greater impact when they occur. Brancaster Activity Centre is likely to see a greater number of floods which are more intense in nature. Katherine Tofield is the Centre Manager at Brancaster Activity Centre. She says: ‘We run residential programmes for school children, attracting groups from all over England. For some, it’s their first visit to the coast. ‘The tidal surge in December 2013 caused devastating flood damage that forced us to close for 18 months. Once the building had dried out, we took the opportunity to refurbish and refit the centre. Above: The Mount Stewart Sea Plantation acts as a buffer for the main historic garden.
‘Due to the Centre’s location, flooding always remains a risk, so many new flood prevention measures were installed, like flood gates and sacrificial wall coverings. This will mean it won’t take us as long to get the Centre open again following any future floods.’
Mount Stewart, Northern Island John Kerr, General Manager at Mount Stewart says: ‘Intense rainfall combined with the underlying clay based soils causes river flooding and waterlogging. In particular flooding impacts the Lily Wood and Spanish Gardens. In the summer, drought can cause water shortages when the plants need water the most. The Sea Plantation has a practical function of protecting the seaward part of the garden and plant collection from the salt-laden winds that sweep in from the Lough. Storm surges bypass tidal defences causing inundation and salination in the Sea Plantation.
Below: Ightham Mote, Kent. National Trust Images/David Levenson.
We are committed to spending around £1bn over the next ten years on the conservation of our houses, gardens and countryside. These conservation challenges will be exacerbated by the impacts of climate change. We recognise that we have to adapt our buildings to be more resilient and work with natural processes to help our landscapes and nature accommodate to a changing climate. By facing up to this challenge of the 21st century we are not only meeting our responsibility to look after our own places, but also meeting our duty to deliver wider public benefit. We are keen to learn from the work other organisations are doing, and also to share our own experiences of caring for some of the UK’s most special and vulnerable places.
Forecast Changeable 2015
Understanding that climate change cannot be accurately predicted, only by pooling our experience will we be better able to look after the places under our care and prepare them for the long term impacts of a changing climate. We are committed to: • Continuing to drive innovation in adapting and mitigating climate change. We will set new targets for reducing our impact on climate change, and report progress beyond existing 2020 targets. We will continue to reduce our overall demand for energy. • Build on the success of our renewable energy investment programme by pursuing new opportunities to use wind, solar, biomass, marine and hydro sources to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions in tune with the landscape and special places. • Futureproof our investments, projects and property plans to make sure they reflect current predictions of climate change, with built in resilience and adaptability to unpredicted change. • Inspire others by the steps we are taking to reduce our energy consumption, tackle climate change and generate more energy from renewable sources. • Reducing carbon emissions from our land through good management of all our carbon stores, particularly in our soils, peatlands, woodlands and wetland. • Share what we have learned, working with landowners, suppliers, corporates, our tenants and other NGOs to jointly address climate change.
Right: 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 worst impacts of climate change can still be avoided if we all work together, and take decisive action now. We call on policy makers to: • Deliver strong leadership abroad. International leadership is essential to deliver a fast and effective global approach to emissions reduction. • Commit to an ambitious set of polices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, establishing a long term framework for investment in energy efficiency renewables and an effective set of planning rules to make sure they do not compromise the beauty and integrity of those places. • Support ‘natural capital’ as a means to deliver both adaption and mitigation of climate change within our landscapes, helping them to become more productive and deliver much wider benefits to nature, people and the economy. • Help reduce the impact of climate change by delivering effective support for adaptation through local authorities – with policy, tools and resources to achieve this. • Help us all to adapt to a changing climate by promoting the full range of risk management tools for homeowners, businesses and managers of land. • Recognise the importance of adaptation in planning and infrastructure decisions. We need to move beyond relying solely on engineering solutions to find flexible ways of dealing with flooding and coastal change. Investing in natural processes of land management to accommodate, prevent and slow down flooding and erosion.
Case studies Forecast Changeable 2015
Forecast Changeable 2015
Intense summer storms hit iconic Cornish fishing village Boscastle, on the north coast of Cornwall, is a picturesque natural harbour and village situated in a steep sided valley with stone-built cottages, shops and tea-rooms. Climate event August 2004 saw one of the worst summer storms ever seen in Britain devastate Boscastle. Within the lower part of the village 70 buildings were flooded and 11 out of 13 of the Trust’s buildings or structures were affected. Boscastle had flooded before but not to this scale.
Climate change projections and impacts Projections show a trend toward wetter winters and drier stormier summers. Hotter drier summers can result in baked compacted soils so when the storms come, much of the water quickly rushes into the streams. At the end of the catchment, Sea level rise will reduce the ability of the catchment to drain. As a result events like the one in August 2004 will be more likely to occur in the future.
What are we doing about climate change? Much of the work in Boscastle has focused on adapting buildings to reduce the impact of smaller more regular floods making it easier to return the buildings back to a habitable condition. Inside the buildings, flood boards have been put across entrances, air brick covers have been installed to stop water entering through the ventilation system, suspended floors have been converted into solid floors, all electrical sockets have been raised up the wall and plasterboard has been fixed horizontally rather than vertically to help during clear up. Up in the catchment, management is concentrated in the 1.2km upstream of the village. Measures include reshaping and raising the car park, the removal of woody debris over 2m in the river channel, retaining woody debris in the flood plain for its positive impact for wildlife and of reducing flood flows, surveying all flood plain trees every three years for unsafe or unstable trees and rotationally coppicing riverside trees. This will help stop vehicles, large trees and large amounts of sediment being transported in flood flows, which could block bridges and culverts in the village.
Previous page: A view of the harbour at Boscastle, Cornwall. Boscastle Harbour lies at the end of a sheltered natural inlet and led to its development as a port for this remote area of Cornish coast. Photo: John Millar. Left: Vehicles are washed away in the 2004 Boscastle floods. Right: A view of the destruction caused by the flooding at Boscastle.
Forecast Changeable 2015
Tidal surge floods activity centre Brancaster Activity Centre engages children with outdoor pursuits on the north Norfolk coast. The centre was seriously flooded during the tidal surge on the evening of the 5th December 2013. Approximately £820,000 has been spent reinstating and adapting the building for future floods. Climate event The tidal surge flooded the building to a water depth of 1m. The building was dried using a speed dry system. All internal flood damaged walls were repaired or removed and redecorated. New flooring was installed.
Climate change projections and impacts
What are we doing about climate change? The activity centre had been identified, in the past, as being at risk. Work was carried out in 2000 to make the property more resilient to minor flooding. This included the provision of flood gates placed across doors, all electrics at 1m above floor level, all cabling tracking down from the ceiling and all and equipment being on plinths above flood level. Since the 2013 floods, work has included fitting of specially designed external doors to minimise water entering the building, a ‘waterdoor’ front door which allows flood boards to be installed up to 1m high, cement render and plaster removed up to 1m and replaced with aqua panels which can withstand flooding, the fitting of easily removed floor surfaces which can be dried out and all expensive equipment situated on wheels to enable quick removal.
Sea levels will rise significantly over the coming 100 years. Estimates suggest a rise between 36 cm and at worst 1.9m by 2080. Climate scientists also predict a tendency toward more storms, and more storm surges. In the future Brancaster Activity Centre is likely to see a greater number of floods which are more intense in nature.
Above: The Activity Centre with visible tide mark after flooding. Photo: Alex Green. Far Left: Debris collected from the flood water. Photo: Alex Green. Left: Flood Water around the picnic area. Photo: Alex Green.
Forecast Changeable 2015
Danger around the Lough Mount Stewart in County Down is a neo-classical house and a celebrated garden. It has been voted as one of the top ten gardens in the world, it reflects a rich tapestry of design and planting artistry. The property is situated on the edge of Strangford Lough, which is a large, shallow inlet and bay designated for a wide range of coastal habitats. Climate event Intense rainfall combined with the underlying clay based soils cause fluvial flooding & waterlogging in the gardens. During summer months, drought can cause water shortages when the plants need water the most. Storm surges overtop or bypass tidal defence structures causing inundation and salination in the Sea Plantation. The Sea Plantation affords much protection for the rest of the gardens from salt laden winds.
Climate change projections and impacts Climate science is showing significant temperature increases over the coming decades (3.4°C by the 2050s). Winter rainfall is also likely to increase (26% by 2050s) along with a rise in sea level (up to 50cm by the 2050s.) Wetter winters will increase the regularity of waterlogging in the garden and Sea Plantation. Many of the species present are not water tolerant and damage is already being done. Higher summer temperatures are likely to see increased water use by plants which will accentuate any drought conditions already experienced.
What are we doing about climate change? Currently the property has managed to maintain the status quo, while future proofing, so that when the cost becomes prohibitive, a financial tipping point will be reached in the future at which time a phased roll-back will take place. • Work is being undertaken to understand and improve surface water flow pathways. This will reduce water logging in the gardens. • The property has installed a rainwater harvesting system. This stores water during wet periods and allows the gardens to be watered more sustainably through dryer periods. • Embracing change will mean planting more species in the Sea Plantation that are accustomed to waterlogging and saltier conditions. • Improving drainage in the Sea Plantation so the time spent being waterlogged can be reduced. • The purchase of land allows flexibility to change the visitor route when the old route becomes unusable.
Salt water is already getting into the groundwater underneath the Sea Plantation1 and there is an increased risk from the sea overtopping the embankment. This will affect the trees which form a practical function of protecting the seaward part of the garden and plant collection. The Portaferry road, which acts as the property’s main access route, is vulnerable to erosion of the coast, along with predicted rises in sea level.
1 Mount Stewart Sea Plantation and Garden Climate Change Impact Research Project - Hyder Consulting (UK) Limited- 2010
Right: Serious waterlogging threatening the plants in in Lily Wood Garden. photo: National Trust
Forecast Changeable 2015
Intelligent water management Nymans was bought in the 19th century by the Messel Family. Inspired by the setting and the soil, they created one of the country’s great gardens, with experimental designs and new plants from around the world. Nymans has always led on environmental innovation from its inception through to today. Climate event Nymans has experienced significant drought issues as a result of both the climate and the free draining sandy loam soils. Philip Holmes, gardener on site for 45 years, says ‘we have definitely experienced wetter winters and episodes of more intense rainfall over recent years. There certainly is a need to collect more [water] these days’.
Climate change projections and impacts Climate science predicts that both the average winter temperature (3.5°C by 2080) and summer temperature (4.9°C by 2080) will rise. Winter rainfall is projected to increase (30% by 2080) and summer rainfall decrease (30% by 2080). Gardens demand more water with increasing temperature. Interestingly winter rainfall is projected to increase and summer to decrease. So when the plants need the most water the property experiences less rainfall. The viability of key plants in the garden is at risk. Philip Holmes also says that ‘the property is seeing more disease. Trees have been lost to fungal disease and there has been a significant outbreak of phytophthora on holly plants’. The increase in disease experienced, not just here but in other National Trust gardens, is likely to be a result of a complex mix of a warmer climate and new diseases being imported in from abroad.
What are we doing about climate change? One key strategy is to store rainwater. In 2007 the property doubled capacity from 40,000 to 80,000 litres. Due to the increasing demand this was increased to 150,000 litres but this year the system ran dry for the first time in seven years. Plans are now in place to further increase capacity, so if it stops raining in April, the garden will have enough water to last through the summer until September, when hopefully it will start to rain again. The property has installed a water reclamation system around the nursery. Any surface water from this area can be collected and reused. The head gardener, Stephen Herrington, says ‘harvesting roof rainwater is half of the loop, the other being capture and re-use of run-off water’. The other strategy is to reduce consumption in the garden. This is achieved through many innovative techniques. There is a well-developed plant watering strategy. The summer boarders are watered when planted and in the first week but then left until a visual check shows the plants need more. This reduces waste and allows the property to store water for longer and use it where it is needed most. Where appropriate, plants can be used that do not consume large volumes of water. Salvia ‘Hot Lips’ which originates from Mexico is used at Nymans. Flic Archer, Gardener at Nymans, has developed the Australasian Garden with the ethos ‘right plant, right place’. The plants used will require no irrigation once established even though they see full sun for most of the day.
Above: The beautiful plants watered strategically when needed. Photo: C.E. Bourke. Left: Gardeners assembling a rainwater harvesting tank at Nymans. National Trust Images/David Levenson.
Forecast Changeable 2015
Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever The £700,000 Plant Conservation Centre (PCC) is not a normal National Trust property. This is a bio secure facility providing specialist support for all 200 of our gardens across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Climate event As an organisation we are widely accepted to hold the largest collection of culturally significant & historic plants in the world. This includes Isaac Newton’s apple tree. Our Head of Gardens Mike Calnan, says ‘The aesthetic, historic and botanical value of the plants is what makes the gardens we look after so special and give pleasure to more than 12 million visitors each year’. The PCC provides the organisation with a centre of excellence for plant propagation, plant collection management and research conservation, working on a par with Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew.
Climate change projections and impacts One crucial aspect of the work at the Plant Conservation Centre is grafting and propagating important collections for National Trust gardens. Traditionally this normally starts in November and finishes in April. Over the past decade there has been a necessary change to grafting between January and March. Grafting can only happen during the winter when the sap has stopped flowing through the plant. Warmer winters have reduced the grafting period, resulting in a second grafting facility being brought on stream at the PCC to accommodate the large number of plants that need to be grafted in a much shorter period.
Top: Samples of Box from the National Collection at Ickworth being clean and propagated to ensure they are not lost to Box Blight. National Trust/Chris Trimmer. Bottom: Inside the plant conservation centre. National Trust Images/Chris Trimmer
There has been a spread of new plant diseases in recent years including Phytophthora ramorum which causes Sudden Oak Death. Climate science predicts warmer wetter winters which may result in a greater prevalence of plant diseases like Phytophthora. More disease has led to an acceleration of emergency propagation to ensure the survival of threatened specimens and the supply of disease-free replacements. The Plant Conservation Centre shows how the National Trust is investing time, and financial resource, into becoming more resilient to changes in climate. The centre is currently propagating and restoring the national collection of Box trees from Ickworth.
What we are doing about climate change Expertise at the PCC helps to identify natural resistance to disease and other climate related issues. A recent visit to Westbury Court Gardens uncovered a naturally selected clone of Yew tree that could be resistant to Phytophthora and also to intermittent water logging. With a view to an increasing likelihood of winter flooding and an increased risk of disease, the centre is propagating this clone so that yews from other gardens that are affected could be replaced.
Forecast Changeable 2015
William of Orange & King Canute Originally laid out between 1696 and 1705 Westbury Court Garden is the only restored Grade II* listed Dutch Water Garden in the country. Climate event Westbury Court Garden is regularly subjected to flooding from the Westbury Brook. Property staff say that incidents have increased in number and severity over recent years. Flood water entered the garden three times in 2007, including in July when some areas were beneath 0.5m of water. The flooding damages soil and brings in waterborne infections like phytophthora which then requires a considerable clean-up operation.
Climate change projections and impacts Climate science indicates a trend towards wetter winters with more persistent rain. There is also a tendency toward more intense summer downpours like for example the ones that led to the 2007 floods. A unique aspect of this property is its proximity to river and estuary. It is likely that river related flooding will increase and become more severe in the coming years. Protection from the sea is afforded by flood defences but with sea level rise together with wind-blown flooding funnelling up the Severn Estuary, the risk from coastal flooding is rising. Whilst there is some protection from saline inundation, there is little protection from the threat of river flooding.
What are we doing about climate change? It has been identified2 that by far the most effective way to alleviate future floods is to acquire the upstream neighbouring farm land which we have now purchased to store flood water before it gets to Westbury Court Garden. The four options to reduce the increasing threat from flooding are: • Using land upstream, to store flood water instead of in the garden. • Lowering the bank and nearby ground levels to the south east of the gardens, so water flows away from the garden onto farm land. • Lowering of the bank and ground levels close to confluence with the River Severn, so water is stored rather than backing up the channel toward the garden. • Building up the bank nearest the property to minimise flood water entering the gardens. Models have shown these options afford a significant improvement in protection and show how early identification of risk can protect iconic special places. 2 Westbury Court Gardens Hydraulic Modelling Draft Report – JBA Consulting 2014
Above: Historic Westbury Court Gardens showing the areas to the North, East and South acquired for flood protection. Photo: Jerry Green. Left: Flood water overtopping the river bank and flooding the field north of the Garden. Photo: Jerry Green.
Forecast Changeable 2015
Lanhydrock – Long term control of insect and fungal pests in collections
Lanhydrock is a late-Victorian country house with gardens and a wooded estate which sits in the Fowey Valley on the edge of Bodmin Moor in Cornwall. The library contains many bibliographical rarities, including exceptional book bindings from the early-modern period, early examples of provincial and continental printing and 28 volumes of incunabula. Lanhydrock remains one of only two such collections within the National Trust. Climate event The property will be increasingly affected by humidity and dampness, as it has in the past.
Climate change projections and associated impacts Climate science shows a trend toward wetter winters and drier stormier summers. The south west is likely to see the greatest increase in rainfall and the associated humidity and dampness inside mansion buildings. National Trust aims to keep collections in their place of provenance, therefore, not moving them away to museums with optimum environmental management control. Mould, fungi and rot are inevitable in material stored in a poor environment and exposed to unsuitable conditions. The discovery of mould and spider beetle in the rare book collection held within the Long Gallery prompted an investigation into, amongst other things, environmental control systems and heating services.
Left: Nursery at Lanhydrock, Cornwall. National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel. Below: The Long Gallery at Lanhydrock, Cornwall. National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel.
What are we doing about climate change? Externally, the building’s infrastructure is being adapted to manage rainwater from roofs through guttering and downpipes. This has a direct impact on moisture and dampness within the building itself. It has been difficult to adapt but there has been success with the installation of an environmental control system which monitors and reacts to relative humidity 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Relative humidity is related to temperature and the dampness of the surrounding environment. The intention is to achieve a constant relative humidity within the room of 58% and within a target band of 40 – 65%. The property have put damp proofing on book pressers, check down pipes regularly, and apply a low level of heat to the building when needed to control relative humidity.
‘It is difficult to demonstrate a tangible improvement in collections condition because the processes involved are slow and insidious and the benefits are realised over the long term. However, we can illustrate its benefit with comparisons between sites, e.g. between the uncontrolled environment of Knole (insect pests, mould, some paint flaking) and Ham House (controlled environment, no damage evident)’ Nigel Blades, Preventative Conservation Advisor
Forecast Changeable 2015
Wimpole – Long term control of insect and fungal pests in collections Wimpole is a magnificent country house, part of the grandest working estate in Cambridgeshire. The house, gardens, landscaped park and Home Farm were created by the greatest names of their day in architecture and landscape design.
Climate event The property has been, and will increasingly be, affected by humidity and dampness.
Climate change projections and impacts Climate science shows an increase in persistent winter rainfall and intense summer downpours. The property has recently experienced more intense rainfall events. The historic rainwater goods are proving insufficient in their ability to carry water away from roof spaces. As with many mansion buildings there are downpipes which drain through the centre of the building, rather than down an outside wall. It is evident from the historic stains in the building fabric at Wimpole that flooding has been an ongoing issue, since before the Trust took ownership. Insufficient capacity results in damage to internal walls and the associated collections. Severe damage was caused to the library collection on three separate occasions, which resulted in a two-year conservation project (funded by insurance) to remove the water staining from the most severely affected books. In particular the library has experienced repeated mould outbreaks from water infiltration; with insect pests such as webbing clothes moth and carpet beetle found in adjacent rooms, principally in carpets.
What are we doing about climate change? In the very short term, staff have to react to each situation as it arises by undertaking a visual inspection during heavy rainfall. They can deploy absorbents or even buckets to areas where water ingress occurs, in order to divert water away from the collection. There are housekeeping methods that they have introduced to mitigate as much risk as possible. This includes a routine roof inspection, where the lead work is patch repaired when necessary. The gardens team are also reviewing what is planted close to the mansion. Where the property has experienced extreme cold events, flooding has happened because of ice and snow blocked gutters. They have recently installed trace heating elements to the gutters around the book room and library. This means that during cold winters, with heavy snow and ice, there is not a build-up in the gutters. Instead, the trace heating allows a slow and gradual thaw, keeping the gutters free from blockage and allowing water to run off at a consistent rate. Looking forward, Wimpole has scheduled work to the roof into their 10-year conservation pipeline. They are also currently investigating what sympathetic adaptations can be made to the rain water goods, to better cope with deluge rainfall, increased gutter volume and enlarged hoppers.
What has been clear is that in the past six years the events have become more frequent and more intense. This trend is likely to continue with the current climate projections.
Right: The Saloon at Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire. National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel.
Forecast Changeable 2015
Birling Gap – 7 years erosion in 2 months An area of outstanding beauty, near Eastbourne in East Sussex, part of the world famous Seven Sisters chalk cliffs, where sweeping downland meets sheer chalk cliffs. Climate event Birling Gap has been affected by sea level rise and increasingly regular storm events. People and buildings have been – and will continue to be – affected by the eroding coastline.
Climate change projections and impacts The key aspects for this part of the coastline are twofold. Firstly, sea levels are rising and are predicted to rise up to 25 cm by 2050 (based on UKCIP high emissions modelling). This, coupled with more intense storms, will increase the rate of erosion compared with that of the last 100 years. Over recent years the speed of erosion at Birling Gap has been breath-taking. We would expect to lose about a metre of cliff in a year but the cliff erosion at Birling Gap is very unpredictable and in the winter storms of 2012/3 we experienced the equivalent of seven years of erosion in a few months. This left parts of our building, the sun lounge and ice cream parlour just five metres from the cliff edge – so the decision was made to take them down.
Top and right: Birling Gap, East Sussex. National Trust Images/John Miller.
What are we doing about climate change? There isn’t anything that can be done to stop the cliff line from eroding. All we can do is understand the processes, identify vulnerable buildings and habitats, and plan how we adapt to the pace of change. The team has installed a number of measures to prepare Birling Gap for future erosion, including fences with ‘elephant feet,’ which can be moved backwards as the coast erodes, so that the danger of falling fences is not added to that of crumbling cliffs. The steps down to the beach are another ingenious feature that enables Birling Gap to adapt to the coastal change. The horizontal gangway that leads to the steps not only gives a platform for great views along the coast but can be extended and the whole step structure can be moved and repositioned higher up the beach as the cliffs retreat. Any new buildings built on site will be designed so that they can be taken down and re-built more easily than the existing one which started life as a private home. We have started to think about this already so that the facilities that visitors enjoy can be created before we lose the existing building. ‘As sea levels rise and storminess increases the erosion could accelerate and parts of our building will continue to be lost. We’re working with coastal change, closing and taking down some of the original parts of the building and plan to move “backwards” through the rooms so that what is today a learning space may become the café in the future. Any new building will be designed to be simpler and more modular so that it can be more easily taken down and re-built. That way we can stay ahead of the eroding cliff line.’ – Jane Cecil General Manager for the South Downs.
Forecast Changeable 2015
Dunwich – Extending vital habitats before they are lost to the sea
Tucked away on the Suffolk coast, a rare and precious habitat, the internationally important mixed lowland heath is home to special species such as the Dartford warbler, nightjar, woodlark, ant-lion, adders and much more.
Climate event Dunwich is being affected by sea level rise and increasingly intense storm events. It has an eroding coastline, where habitats and wildlife need to move at an increasing pace to survive.
Climate change projections and impacts The key aspects for this part of the coastline are twofold. Firstly, the sea level is rising and is predicted to rise up to 25 cm by 2050 (UKCIP high emissions modelling). This coupled with more storms will increase the rate of erosion compared with that of the last 100 years.
What are we doing about climate change? This part of the Suffolk coast has been eroding for centuries; therefore long-term protection of the site is unsustainable and not economically viable. To enable ongoing adaptation, the National Trust has acquired 36.5 acres of land adjacent to the coast which will allow new habitat to establish as the coastline gradually erodes back. The Mount Pleasant Farm site is adjacent to and north of Dunwich Heath and has been re-named Mount Pleasant Heath. In 2002, the Trust purchased half of the then 66-hectare farm in order to create new habitat and secure site/public access. The other half was bought by RSPB who have embarked on a similar habitat creation project. The Trust and the RSPB share similar interests and problems on this stretch of dynamic coast.
Left: Dunwich Heath and Beach, Suffolk. National Trust Images/Chris Lacey.
Forecast Changeable 2015
Wharfedale – peatland restoration and carbon management
What are we doing about climate change? All the peat habitats within our Dales properties are in some form of restoration programme. The aim of restoration is to re-establish a high water table by the blocking of drainage grips and reprofiling of eroding peat ‘hags’. The hags are vertical peat cliffs up to six metres high, which are left when large amounts of peat have been eroded away. We are aiming to re-start the process of having a ‘living’, growing bog, more able to store carbon and act in a way that slows down waterflow into the river system. Re-profiling involves using a digger to reshape the edge of the peat to 45 degrees and re-cover it with vegetation. This has been done alongside reducing sheep numbers, in agreement with tenant farmers, which has a long-term beneficial effect on the dwarf shrub habitat. Most of this work is carried out at high altitude, around 500 to 600 metres so it comes at considerable cost of labour and machinery.
Area of classic Yorkshire Dales countryside – along the Upper Wharfe-Valley – the characteristic dry-stone walls and barns of the Dales, important flower-rich hay meadows, beautiful riverside and valleyside woodland combine to create a wonderful place to relax and explore the great outdoors.
In agreement with our tenants we have carried out works to increase the river Wharfe’s ability to react to high water flows. Soft engineering techniques are used with the aim of allowing more natural processes to take place where appropriate, without removing the farmer’s ability to make a living from the land, but accepting of a degree of natural change within the river system.
Climate event Recent changes in rainfall patterns due to climate change have led to higher peak river flows, increased flooding and increased erosion of river banks, which has been made worse by drainage and overgrazing on the peat moorlands. Where there is lack of tree cover on steeper ground heavy rain and sheep grazing can cause erosion and landslips.
Climate change projections and impact Historical land management practices to maximise sheep numbers have led to overgrazing and low amounts of woodland cover. The digging of drainage channels (grips) in the 1950s 60s and 70s was an attempt to dry off the land and further improve the grazing. This has lowered the water table which has led to the drying of blanket bog. This has been further exaccerbated by building of river flood banks and dredging of the River Wharfe to reduce likelihood of flooding in the bottom of the valley. Peat bog erosion and exposed bare peat is the long term result of overgrazing and drainage, which results in decomposition of peat and erosion of peat sediment into watercourses. Decomposition of peat results in CO2 being released into the atmosphere (healthy blanket bogs are a massive CO2 store).
Top: Upper Wharfedale Bottom: Newly planted woodland by Buckden Beck Right: Peat hanging on Raisgill Common
By moving one section of flood bank away from the river it has created a wider channel and encourages a more varied range of river habitats – gravel shoals, tree lined banks and multiple channels. We have recreated meandering tributaries which had historically been in underground culverts. Planting willow and fencing off sections from livestock allows greater growth of trees on the river’s banks, controls erosion and protects valuable hay meadow. We’ve removed sections of flood bank to allow floodwaters to re-enter the river system much faster. In addition, we have been planting new woodlands in often heavily eroded and steep sided gills. There is remnant woodland cover in these areas but only scattered. We have fenced off significant areas and re-planted with native tree species. As well as creating a more robust woodland network which is more able to withstand a changing climate, these areas slow down water flow into the river system and the tree’s roots and longer vegetation beneath the trees will help to prevent landslides and erosion.
National Trust – more than just a pretty place The National Trust was founded in 1895 by three people who saw the importance of our nation’s heritage and open spaces, and wanted to protect and care for them for everyone to enjoy. These values are still at the heart of everything we do. As a conservation charity we are responsible for looking after special places throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland for ever, for everyone. We now care for over 257,082ha of land and 775 miles of coastline plus every type of landscape such as forests, woods, fens, farmland, parks, moorland, islands, beaches and mountainside. We have over 500 historic houses, 200 gardens, 76 nature reserves, 149 museums and 83,000 collections; 400 factories, mills, mines (including two gold mines), whole villages, archaeological remains and ancient monuments. Plus 61 pubs and a garden centre. For us, conservation has always gone hand-inhand with enabling people to access our places. Each year we have an estimated 200 million visits to our outdoor places, 20 million visits to paid-forentry sites a year and a membership of 4.4 million people and growing. As a charity the cost of caring for our places is high. We have over 60,000 volunteers and 10,000 staff, our property project expenditure was £91.3 million in 2013/14. The National Trust is committed to spend around £1bn over the next ten years on
the conservation of our houses, gardens and countryside. We rely on the support of our members, donors and volunteers, as well as income from grants and commercial activities such as retail and catering. Many people’s livelihoods rely on our success. We support thousands of local businesses, 1,800 agricultural tenancies and 5000 private residential tenancies. We invest in parts of the country that might be bypassed by normal market forces transferring millions of each year into the rural economy. We take a long view, often over many decades. Our conservation and business related challenges will only be further exacerbated by the impacts of climate change. Our approach to climate change is no different to making long a term investment decision. We identify risks and balance opportunities with threats. A methodical approach, integrated into our investments, projects and wider business plans. An example of this is committing to invest £30 million in renewables to secure our own source of home grown energy. This investment will reduce our carbon emissions and our energy bill by up to £4 million a year. We will deliver long term environmental improvements, economic returns and energy security without negatively impacting upon our landscapes.
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Registered Charity No. 205846 © National Trust 2015 President: HRH The Prince of Wales. Chairman: Tim Parker. Deputy Chairman: Orna NiChionna. Director-General: Dame Helen Ghosh DCB Photography: ©National Trust Images/James Dobson/Simon Fraser/Stephen Robson/ Colin Sturges //Stephen Robson David Levenson /Andreas von Einsiedel/John Miller/ Chris Lacey