National Geographic : 1995 Oct
from Mrs. Fannie Talbot, who wanted the land in "the custody of some society that will never vulgarise it. ... I wish to avoid the abomination of asphalt paths and the cast iron seats of serpent design." In 1896 the trust paid £10 for its first pur chased property, a 14th-century house in East Sussex. And the rest, as they say, is history. Today the National Trust owns more than 590,500 acres of land and protects another 79,500 acres with legal covenants that restrict development. That's 1.6 percent of the land in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland (Scotland has its own separate National Trust). The trust owns holiday cottages, tearooms, and restaurants, as well as castles, hamlets, and villages. It runs a theater company, an art foundation, and various employment training programs. It publishes handbooks, magazines, a glossy annual re port, and a mail-order catalog that features bone-china mugs, silk scarves, and crystal perfume bottles. It has a gift shop in Japan and an American affiliate called the Royal Oak Foundation. It has 2,800 permanent staff, 28,000 volunteers, and 2,250,000 mem bers. In Britain the trust is ubiquitous. Of all the trust's programs, few have been as ambitious and successful as the campaign to save the coast for-and from-the public. The program began in the early 1960s when the trust commissioned a survey to evaluate the opportunities for conservation along the coast of England, Wales, and Northern Ire land. Out of more than 3,000 miles of coast line, the trust judged a thousand to be neither beautiful nor interesting; another thousand, cluttered with marinas, trailer parks, hotels, and factories, to be ruined beyond redemp tion; and the remaining shoreline-of which the trust already owned 200 miles-to be of outstanding beauty and worthy of protection. In 1965 the trust launched Enterprise Nep tune to acquire these segments. To appreciate the ambitious scale of this project, imagine this: If an organization in the United States acquired one-third of the shoreline in the lower 48 states, it would con trol the equivalent of the entire Gulf Coast and then some. Strong enough to stomach thistles and other roughforage, an Exmoor pony prevents scrubfrom suffocating wildflowers on the Dorset coast. Trust wardens have been successfully breeding these rare and ancient ponies to aid in conservingcliffside grasslands.