“Scotland’s rainforest is just as lush and just as important as tropical rainforest, but is even rarer,” said Adam Harrison of Woodland Trust Scotland. “It is found along the west coast and on the inner isles and is a unique habitat of ancient native oak, birch, ash, pine and hazel woodlands and includes open glades and river gorges.
“Our rainforest relies on mild, wet and clean air coming in off the Atlantic, and is garlanded with a spectacular array of lichens, fungi, mosses, liverworts and ferns. Many are nationally and globally rare and some are found nowhere else in the world.”
A good example of this habitat could contain over 200 different species of bryophytes, such as the deceptive featherwort and the greater fork moss, and over 150 different species of lichen, such as tree lungwort and golden specklebelly.
Chris Ellis from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, which is hosting the launch, said:
“This habitat was once found all along Europe’s Atlantic coast, but it has dwindled over thousands of years due to clearance and air pollution from steady industrialisation. The west coast of Scotland has suffered less from these pressures and is now one of the last strongholds of Europe’s rainforest.”
The new report reveals that there is as little as 30,325 hectares of rainforest left in Scotland. The remnant oak, birch, ash, native pine and hazel woodlands are small, fragmented and isolated from each other. They are over mature and often show little or no regeneration. They are in danger of being lost forever.
- Almost all of the rainforest is overgrazed to a degree that will prevent it from re-growing.
- Invasive rhododendron can be found in 40% of rainforest sites where it threatens to choke the woodlands and prevent the distinctive rainforest flora from surviving.
- One in every five sites has been planted up with exotic conifer plantations which lower their value as rainforest habitat.
- Ash dieback threatens the future of our northern and western most ash woods.
- Climate change and air pollution are set to decimate the last refuge for the rare plants that make the rainforest so special to us and the rest of the world.
Gordon Gray Stephens, representing the Community Woodlands Association, said: “It’s not too late to take action. Our vision for regenerating Scotland’s rainforest is clear: we need to make it larger, in better condition, and with improved connections between people and woods. Coming together as an Alliance can help to make this happen.”
A bigger, more vigorous and better connected rainforest will allow wildlife to spread out and will be more resilient to threats and environmental changes, and better able to survive and thrive in the long term. It will also contribute to Scotland’s sustainable development and economic growth – sites will be visited more, become more productive and will be better championed and supported by businesses, local communities, charities and government agencies.
More partners are sought to join the Alliance with the aim of working together, sharing ideas and experience, and developing and funding innovative projects to save Scotland’s rainforest.
Atlantic Woodland Alliance members own or manage two fifths of Scotland’s best rainforest sites – most of which are open to the public. Some of the best include:
Crinan Wood, Argyll – Woodland Trust Scotland
Ballachuan Hazelwood, Seil Island, Argyll - Scottish Wildlife Trust
Dalavich Oakwood, Argyll - Forestry and Land Scotland
Inversnaid Nature Reserve, Loch Lomond - RSPB Scotland
Balmacara Estate, Kyle of Lochalsh - National Trust for Scotland
Beinn Eighe and Loch Maree Islands National Nature Reserve, Wester Ross – Scottish Natural Heritage
Allt Mhuic, Lochaber – Butterfly Conservation Scotland/Forestry and Land Scotland
Notes to editors
For further information contact George Anderson at Woodland Trust Scotland on 07770 700631.
Woodland Trust Scotland is part of the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK. The Woodland Trust has over 500,000 supporters. It wants to see a UK rich in native woods and trees for people and wildlife.
The Trust has three key aims: i) protect ancient woodland which is rare, unique and irreplaceable, ii) restoration of damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life, iii) plant native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife.
Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in its care covering over 22,500 hectares. In 1984, the Trust acquired its first wood in Scotland. Today it owns and cares for some 60 sites covering more than 8,000 hectares across Scotland. Access to its woods is free.
Free to use images can be downloaded here.
Files prefixed WTMayjmp were taken at Dalavich Oak Wood in Argyll and should be credited to John Macpherson/WTML
The figure in the red jacket is Adam Harrison of Woodland Trust Scotland who is quoted in the release.
Other shots have location and credit details in the filename.