The National Trust for Scotland has called on Scots to help to safeguard the future of the country’s beloved heritage sites.
The charity has launched its Save our Scotland campaign which asks members, donors and the general public to donate to a £2.5 million emergency fundraiser aimed at making up for losses accrued during the coronavirus crisis.
It comes as the Trust revealed its proposals to begin re-opening properties earlier this week, in accordance with the Scottish Government’s phased exit out of lockdown.
Current lockdown measures have created a £28 million shortfall in the charity’s income for this year, meaning only a fraction of its locations will be able to open in 2020 and the beginning of 2021. This is due to lack of resources or because they cannot be adequately adapted to on-going social distancing restrictions.
The charity usually relies on memberships and donations to ensure the long term preservation of its sites and the drop in income could see sites mothballed or sold to private owners.
The fundraising site reads: “We expect to lose £28 million in income this year, meaning our ability to protect Scotland’s special places now and for the future is threatened.
“The impact of coronavirus on the Trust has been devastating. We have had no visitors; our cafés and shops lie empty; and we’ve had to cancel all our events and holiday rentals. Our vital conservation work has been put on hold and the majority of our staff are furloughed. We urgently need your help. Please donate today.”
The Trust for Scotland protects some of Scotland’s most significant places and spaces such as Crathes Castle in Aberdeenshire, Inverewe Garden in Wester Ross, Mar Lodge Estate in Braemar and Culzean Castle in Ayrshire.
In normal circumstances, it spends £1 million every week to ensure these places are protected. Without the Trust’s care and protection, these heritage sites could quickly fall into disrepair, and they would not be accessible to the public.
Other historic buildings and heritage sites would also be at risk from developers. The Battle of Culloden is probably one of the best-known events in Scottish history and the National Trust for Scotland cares for a large portion of the battlefield. Without the Trust, sites like Culloden could be sold.
Stuart Brooks, head of conservation at the National Trust for Scotland said: “The Trust touches millions of lives every year and we plan to go on doing that well past our centenary in 2031 and beyond. We exist to benefit everyone in Scotland, whether they are visiting a property and learning about Scotland’s history, gaining valuable experience through volunteering on a work camp or climbing a mountain and feeling awesome.
“Many of the places we care for would continue to exist but that doesn’t guarantee people will continue to access, learn and enjoy them in the way they do now. That’s the value and the purpose of the Trust and why Scotland would be a poorer place without the work we do.”
In total, the Trust looks after 76,000 hectares of countryside – the size of around 100,000 football pitches. This includes 46 Munros, over 400 islands and islets and eight National Nature Reserves, including iconic sites like Glencoe.
The organisation makes a valuable contribution to the Scottish economy, injecting nearly £300 million into the country every year.