The National Trust has unveiled a plan to become net-zero carbon by 2030, which features one of the UK's biggest forest expansion projects.

Launched on 9 January to align with the charity’s 125th anniversary, the strategy includes a series of new initiatives designed to both minimise the organisation’s operational emissions, and capture remaining emissions using nature-based solutions.

On operational emissions reductions, the strategy re-iterates the National Trust’s existing commitment to invest £35m in onsite renewable generation by February 2021 and confirms that longer-term plans are being developed. During financial year 2018/19, the organisation generated the equivalent of 26% of its energy consumption through its portfolio of renewable arrays.

Energy efficiency measures are also detailed, as is a project aimed at measuring full supply chain emissions for the first time.

But nature-based solutions are the strategy’s stand-out measures. It includes commitments to invest in restoring and conserving carbon-sequestering peat bogs and woodlands and to plant 20 million trees over the next decade.

Once planted, the trees will increase the proportion of the National Trust’s estate covered in forest from 10% to 17%. In context, the charity estimates that the additional forestry will cover an area one-and-a-half times as big as Manchester.

17% is notably the proportion of land across the UK which the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has recommended should be forest if the UK is to reach its 2050 net-zero target. The National Trust, therefore, is using the launch of its own strategy to call on the Government to boost investment in forests, after Defra figures published last year revealed that spending in this area has been falling since 2014.

In addition to meeting its own carbon targets, the National Trust hopes its plans for tree-planting will further its engagement with the UK public and encourage visitors to take further action in their own lives.

To that end, the charity has published a year-long programme of events spanning across its portfolio of 500+ sites, including open tree-planting sessions, river and beach cleans, birdwatching and cloud watching workshops, guided nature walks and bike rides, food forages and art sessions.