Conservation group is facing an unprecedented challenge
Scotland’s National Trust is losing up to 1,000 members a week during lockdown while its sister body representing England, Wales and Northern Ireland is forecasting a £200m loss.
The National Trust for Scotland is having to use its reserves as it faces what is usually its busiest time of the year under lockdown.
Simon Skinner, the trust’s chief executive, said: “We are looking at all possible options to reduce costs further on the basis that the lockdown is likely to continue for some time. Even when it is ended, this will probably done in stages, with some restrictions remaining.
“In the meantime, we are encouraging to members and donors to continue to support us.”
It cares for 270 properties as well as the stewardship of islands like St Kilda and country homes such as Culzean Castle as well as the first minister’s official residence, Bute House in Edinburgh.
About 2% of the membership, which stands at 360,000, has gone since the beginning of March.
Skinner added: “This doesn’t sound much, but our membership recruitment is now next to nothing. In normal years, new memberships by far exceed losses and enable us to realise fresh income and grow our membership baseline,” said Skinner.
“Although people can’t physically access our properties for the time being, we’ve put together interactive online and web content so that there are still opportunities to engage with Scotland’s rich built, cultural and social heritage.
“We’re hoping that this will encourage people to plan ahead and prepare a list of some of the country’s most fabulous places to visit once restrictions start to lift.”
At the same time, its sister body, the National Trust, has warned key projects are at risk as it has already paused work to clean rivers, prevent upland flooding and improve soil.
As the UK's largest conservation charity, it looks after more than 300 historic houses and almost 800 miles of coastline across the three countries.
The trust, which marks its 125th anniversary this year, has closed its gated gardens and parks as well as its houses, cafes and shops to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
At the end of March, the conservation charity was also forced to close all of its car parks.