The milestone comes as the Trust celebrates its 125th anniversary of protecting and caring for places so people and nature can thrive, and where everyone is welcome.
Membership numbers in Northern Ireland have nearly doubled in the past ten years from 52,000 members in 2010 to over 100,000 in 2020, over 5% of the entire Northern Ireland population.
Family group (two adults and their children or grandchildren), joint (two adults) and joint pensioner (two adults, senior concession) are the three most popular membership types in Northern Ireland.
Free access to the charity’s houses, gardens, UNESCO World heritage sites and 108 miles of coastline are just some of the benefits that members can enjoy in Northern Ireland, as well as entry to hundreds more places in Wales and England, with every visit enabling the organisation to continue its vital work at these locations.
Sonja Orderley, Membership Promotion Consultant for the National Trust in Northern Ireland said: ‘It’s fantastic to see our membership base grow to over 100,000 in Northern Ireland. We’re delighted that more people than ever before are enjoying what the National Trust has to offer, from UNESCO World Heritage sites like the Giant’s Causeway, to mountains, mansion houses, countryside and coastline.
‘As a charity, we rely on membership subscriptions to help us care for nature, beauty and history and it’s clear that more people in Northern Ireland are realising the benefits that spending time in nature and the historic environment provides. In the busy, noisy world we now live in perhaps it’s never been more important to escape to the peace, beauty and inspiration of our places.’
‘I’d like to say thank you to all our members for supporting our cause and doing their bit to protect our special places for everyone, for ever.’
In 2019, members living in Northern Ireland visited the region’s properties more than 500,000 times, generating over £1.4 million for conservation.
Thanks to this growing support, the charity have been able to spend over £17 million on conservation in Northern Ireland in 2019 and invest millions in a number of major projects this year, including a two-year project to repair paths on Slieve Donard and Slieve Commedagh in the Mournes; the restoration of the Kitchen Garden at Florence Court in Fermanagh and miles of new pathways at Mount Stewart. The work that the Trust is doing to provide access and connect people to nature is particularly important in Northern Ireland where there isn’t the same right to roam that exists in Wales and England.
They are also helping wildlife and nature. With support from members, visitors and donors, they have plans in place to help wildlife recover in Northern Ireland by planting 125,000 trees; having 890 hectares of priority habitat under restoration by 2025; developing more wildflower meadows; working with tenant farmers to introduce conservation grazing and restoring The Argory mosses to capture carbon and contribute to climate change mitigation.
Visiting Castle Ward to join the celebrations Hilary McGrady, Director General for the National Trust said: ‘It’s fantastic to see Northern Ireland reach the landmark of 100,000 members. This news comes just days after Wales announced their 200,000th member and in the year that we celebrate 125 years of the Trust. Our founders believed that everyone should have access to nature, beauty and history and we are guided by these principles today.
‘Rising membership and visitor numbers are a reflection that more people than ever want to get outdoors, breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the benefits that being in nature brings. The support of our members, visitors and donors allows us to ensure that the special places in our care remain for everyone, for ever.’
The announcement follows on from the charity’s commitment to become carbon net zero by 2030, plant two million trees in the UK to help tackle climate change, create green corridors to bring nature and people closer together, and continue investment in arts and heritage.