The International National Trusts Organisation (INTO)

National Trust – Climate change adaptation guidance

Climate change October 31, 2022

National Trust - Climate change adaptation guidance

For caretakers and managers of historic and beautiful places

Together with other heritage organisations, National Trust experts are creating a range of guidance for the owners and managers of historic and beautiful places.

This guidance is available for any person or organisation looking after such places to help them build resilience against climate change and how to take decisions in the face of climate hazards.

Each guidance section includes summary information about different asset types and activity associated with historic estates and landscapes, and provides hazard, impact and options tables for potential climate threats and how and when to respond to these. The sections of each part of the guidance, divided into asset categories, also provide case studies and detail on options and thresholds for change to how and when adaptation measures may be implemented, along with advice on permissions and consents required where statutory obligations apply.

New guidance documents will become available over the course of 2022 and 2023, please keep checking back.

This guidance has been developed with Cadw, Department for Communities, Northern Ireland, Historic Environment Scotland, Historic England, English Heritage Trust and National Trust for Scotland.


How to use the climate adaptation guidance

Read our short introduction on how to use this guidance. (PDF 9MB)

Read the introduction here
NT climate change hazard map

National Trust hazard map

The National Trust has developed a hazard map that illustrates the threat climate change poses and highlights ways to tackle it. Working to a worst-case scenario model, the map plots places alongside existing data on climate change-related events, such as heat and landslides. It's the first map of its kind that collates and plots data in this way and will help the National Trust and other organisations identify the hazard level facing countryside locations, monuments, coastlines and historical sites in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. The map is drawn using a ‘worst-case scenario’ in which greenhouse gas emissions continue their current trajectory unchecked with 65km square hexagrids plotting the threat level from one to five.

Explore the hazard map

Climate change adaptation guidance chapters

Chapter 1: People and visitor activity

The National Trust is currently undertaking research on this area of business activity to produce guidance on climate hazard impacts, adaptation measures and thresholds which will be developed in 2023.

Chapter 2: Places

The National Trust owns over 400 historic places across England, Northern Ireland and Wales, with over 250k hectares of land. While the other chapters of this guidance consider individual assets and activity, this chapter is under development to create holistic guidance for our places, thinking about the inter-dependencies of the things in the care of the organisation. This guidance will be developed and published in 2023.

Chapter 3: Nature

The National Trust owns land with complex ecological systems that are continually impacted by surrounding pressures of development, land use and wider environmental issues such as water quality and soil condition associated with land management issues outside the control of the organisation. The National Trust is working hard to conserve the natural environment and was inspired to create this wider guidance from existing guidance on climate change adaptation for the natural and farmed environment, created by Natural England.

Natural England climate change adaptation guidance
Chapter 4: Parks, gardens and trees

The National Trust is researching and developing guidance for this chapter and will publish detailed sections in 2023. Please keep checking back for updates. There is some guidance already available, for example on wood pasture and parkland, via the Natural England climate change adaptation guidance.

Natural England climate change adaptation guidance
Chapter 5: Farming

The National Trust holds over 250k hectares of land, much of which constitutes a farmed environment. Many of our farms are under agri-environment schemes and guidance produced by Natural England on the farmed environment is available via their web publications.

Natural England climate change adaptation guidance
Chapter 6: Coast

The National Trust owns around 800 miles of coastline around England, Northern Ireland and Wales. This land is vulnerable to shifting shores; erosion and accretion, impacting our historic and natural environment. The National trust is currently researching and developing guidance on this chapter following on from the launch of our Shifting Shores policy document which explains our approach to managing coast generally and adapting to climate change as part of this approach.

National Trust Shifting Shores Report
Chapter 7: Water

Water is potentially the most vulnerable asset and resource when it comes to climate hazards. From rivers to water features, the National Trust owns a range of sites that include water as functional, natural or designed aspects of its historic places. The sections below give detail on impacts, case studies, approaches and thresholds for change when considering climate change adaptation.



Water Features


Water Sourcing & Efficiency
Chapter 8: Archaeology and landscape

The National Trust has records of over 90k archaeological sites and features in its Historic Buildings, Sites and Monuments Record. Most of these sites are not protected by statutory designations and are vulnerable to land management practices, animal burrowing, vandalism and access erosion. These sites are also vulnerable to the changing climate and the compounding impacts of flooding, prolonged periods of rain, drought, landslides and coastal erosion and the effects on features such as earthworks, buried remains and waterlogged deposits. The sections of this chapter below explore this in more detail.

Archaeological Earthworks


Buried Archaeological Remains


Waterlogged Archaeological Remains
Chapter 9: Collections and internal fabric

The National Trust is currently researching impacts of climate hazards on a range of internal fabric and collection types. In 2024 guidance on different materials in care and internal fabric, including options for conservation approaches, potential thresholds for change and methods for approaching pathway planning will be published. Please check back for updates in due course.

Chapter 10: Buildings

The National Trust owns around 28,500 buildings across England, Northern Ireland and Wales. Most of these are of pre-1919 construction and are therefore principally of traditional materials such as brick and stone masonry, cob and timber framed. All buildings are vulnerable to climate change but are resilient in their nature and the guidance published to date focuses on the building envelope, specifically the rainwater goods, which are the building’s first line of defence (along with a roof), against the harm that can be caused by water ingress. Further sections of this guidance will be published in 2023.

Rainwater goods
Chapter 11: Infrastructure

The National Trust owns and is responsible for over 30,000 kilometres of paths and tracks. These vary in construction type and are at varied levels of use, accessibility and vulnerability to climate hazards. The guidance produced to date focuses on paths as a principal form of infrastructure that provides access to National Trust places – part of the core purpose of the organisation.

Chapter 12: Utilities and services

The National Trust is researching and developing guidance in this area of our assets and how to manage them in the face of climate hazards. Impacts of flooding and shrink-swell on sub-stations, sewage treatment systems and our mechanical and electrical infrastructure are already being experienced at many sites. Please check back for updates as we draw together case studies and research in 2023.

Chapter 13: Finance, risk and insurance

In the knowledge of increasing exposure to climate hazards, but with the uncertainty of climate projections and future conditions, the National Trust is working with professionals in the operational risk, insurance and financial sectors to develop research and guidance around potential measures and thresholds that can be practically useful for owners and caretakers of historic places. Please check back in the future as this guidance is developed in 2023.

Chapter 14: Procurement and commercial

As well as sustainable supply chains and commercial services, the National Trust is working to make sure that these business areas are also resilient to climate impacts. The research and guidance for this chapter will be developed in 2024.