A number of National Trust environmental initiatives are under threat as the charity faces £200 million losses as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Like many organisations across the UK, the trust has run into financial difficulty following the closure of its gardens, parks, cafes and shops.
It means its vast tree planting initiative, which committed to planting 20 million trees by 2030, has been seriously ‘compromised’.
Pointing to the risk this sharp drop in revenue posed to the trust’s key environmental projects, National Trust external communications manager Jeannette Heard said: “[Losses] threaten our entire investment programme, which affects all areas of our work, and a significant part of our investment was directed to delivering ambitious environmental targets.
“This included the creation of 18,000 hectares of new woodland by 2030.”
With its property operating costs totalling £296.4m, according to the trust’s latest annual report, Ms Heard highlighted the effects of the pandemic meant conservation efforts would be ‘jeopardised by long-term financial loss’.
The news follows concerns previously raised over the trust’s commitment to farming communities in the uplands, after its tree planting scheme prompted fears that tenant farmers would see a reduction in stock density.
Thomas Binns, NFU uplands chairman and Lancashire sheep farmer, said: “The current circumstances demonstrate how dynamic this situation is and it is important to remember farmers are a key asset, as they are fundamental to the management of the landscape.
“Therefore, a pause in the National Trust’s tree planting scheme provides time to reflect on how farmers would and could be affected by the initiative in the medium to long term.”
Ms Heard added the Government’s coronavirus Job Retention Scheme would be fundamental to stemming ‘unrecoverable losses’ caused by the closure of its properties and moves to furlough staff.