Trust at work

Protecting and managing 76,000 hectares of countryside takes dedication and enthusiasm (and some seriously sturdy shoes).

We’re the guardians of wild land all over Scotland, and every place has its own unique landscapes, habitats and wildlife that need our attention. In addition to our practical conservation work, we make visiting a Trust place as enjoyable and inspiring as we can.

We couldn’t keep our properties in such good condition without the hard work of all kinds of people, from ecologists and conservation specialists to local volunteers. And that’s not to mention our very own countryside rangers who are so important, they get their own page! We also work with numerous other organisations to ensure that Scotland’s landscapes and wildlife receive the best care.

Monitoring and conservation

We look after 8 National Nature Reserves and 27 sites that are recognised as being vital to internationally important nature conservation efforts.

Wildlife conservation can mean anything from restricting animal grazing (in order to protect vulnerable plant species), building Scotland’s first bat reserve (as we did at Threave Estate), assisting with the Scottish Wildcat Conservation Action Plan or counting red squirrels in one of our woodlands.

A pipistrelle bat being held during a bat survey
Bat handling at Culzean Castle

Access and recreation

Over 1 million people visit our countryside places every year, drawn to the beauty of the landscapes and wildlife. We work hard to be accessible for everyone, from bird-watchers and mountain climbers to parents with young children and those with disabilities.

We spend a vast amount of time maintaining footpaths and trails. Where possible, we make sure that these paths connect to popular attractions or nearby towns, and that they don’t disrupt the natural landscape. We’ve also built viewing hides to let visitors get closer to nature, and created orientation panels that explain what’s around them.

Our rugged and remote landscapes have become a haven for climbers, kayakers and all kinds of adventure-seekers. Wild land can be daunting as well as physically challenging, but we encourage people to visit and see nature at its most peaceful and powerful.

Kayakers on the water at Kintail
Kayakers on the water at Kintail

Community involvement

Throughout the country, the National Trust for Scotland plays an important role in local communities. We provide employment, bring in tourist income and support tenants – so when we make decisions, we involve local communities to make sure we understand what they need.

In rural areas, where we are a major landowner, this is especially important. In places like Fair Isle, Canna, Iona and Balmacara, we undertake our heritage role while working with local communities to help improve housing, employment opportunities, services and infrastructure, with a focus on sustainable development

The village of Plockton at Balmacara
The village of Plockton at Balmacara

Education and engagement

Improving understanding of nature helps to support conservation, so education is an essential aspect of our work. We’ve created all kinds of educational resources. Our expert rangers lead hundreds of guided walks around our properties each year, and we’ve introduced thousands of school children to the great outdoors.

We’ve developed interpretive displays and guidebooks for a wide audience, and our visitor centres are packed with information and advice for nature lovers. And, of course, there’s our Nature Channel, where we post videos online that capture the abundance of wildlife and natural landscapes that we protect.

Children pond-dipping at Threave
A school group pond-dipping at Threave Estate

Guides and codes

Making sure that visitors and our wildlife are safe is vitally important, so we have plenty of staff at hand to help advise people of the best ways to enjoy the outdoors, be they walkers, climbers or cyclists. We also encourage people to visit the Scottish Outdoor Access Code website, which is a great place to find out more about everyone’s access rights and responsibilities in Scotland’s countryside.

Two people walking in Glencoe
Walkers setting off from Glencoe