Discover the UK's beautiful, fragile rainforests

Britain's rainforests are a vanishingly rare habitat, thought to be even more threatened than their tropical counterparts.

It feels wonderful to be at a place like this, I think they're remarkably special places.

And a large part of that for me personally is just the aesthetic of the place. How it feels to walk in it, it's refreshing, uh to be truthful it's soothing on the soul.

So, we're in the very west of Scotland. We experience very wet conditions, very high rainfall which creates a lovely humid atmosphere within the forest and you have these dense, dense patches of bryophytes mosses growing on the trees on the ground.

And it's part of the sort of Atlantic Woodland that stretches from the north of Scotland right to the southwest of England.

At the bottom of Llennyrch is Ceunant Llennyrch at the gorge of the Afon Prysor. And that is a moist humid environment where species of moss and liverwort have managed to cling on where they've been lost from the wider landscape.

These valleys on Dartmoor are often referred to as refugia because they are likely to be the sorts of places where some important lower plant assemblages and a number of other quite important species are likely to actually be able to be sustained in a warming climate.

You go in and in and in and you start looking at the detail of the world then it's beautiful, you know, nature is really the best artist and the detail that you can see and some of the lower plants in particular that are there are is really quite remarkable.

It's just an amazing place to be you feel like you sort of have a link back to our landscape as it used to be and you really feel this sort of sense of connection with nature.

So, the work we do is absolutely critical in ensuring that we don't lose a really important part of our ecosystem. We now need to think about the future and a lot of the species that live here are under threat from our changing climate and over the next 50 years or more those pressures will become far greater.

People, for as long as there have been people here will have got I think a similar feeling to what I get when I walk in these places. And partly why I feel privileged to be able to work in this kind of field is to try and allow a circumstance where these places are still going to be here for you know our children and their children's children.

So, it's not just our ancestors that have walked in them and have felt as we have, it's the people coming after us too.

Why our rainforests are so special

Dripping with moisture from more than 200 days of rainfall a year and shrouded in mists and lush green foliage, Britain's rainforests are perfect for scarce bryophytes, lichens and fungi as well as a host of iconic wildlife species.

Credit: Philip Formby / WTML

Where are Britain's rainforests?

Britain's temperate rainforests are scattered along the hyper-oceanic zone on the west coast of Britain. They include woods such as Loch Arkaig and Ben Shieldaig in Scotland, Llennyrch in Wales and Fingle Woods, Hall Farm and Ausewell in Devon.

Credit: Philip Formby / WTML

Outstanding biodiversity

The humidity and mild temperatures support diverse and internationally significant communities of moisture-loving mosses, liverworts, lichens and ferns. They cloak tree trunks, branches, boulders and the forest floor.

Credit: Zoonar Gmbh / Alamy Stock Photo

Rare and iconic wildlife

Britain's rainforests provide critical habitats for plants and animals, some of which are found nowhere else in the world. They include mammals such as otters, red squirrels, dormice and bats and migratory birds such as pied flycatcher, wood warbler, redstart and tree pipit.

Credit: Philip Formby / WTML

A threatened habitat

Britain's rainforests are facing catastrophic threats. Many are choked with non-native conifers, rhododendron and cherry laurel. They are being damaged by grazing, and climate change is taking its toll on moisture levels. Air pollution is killing the fragile lichens and bryophytes, and tree disease is decimating the diverse canopy.

Saving Britain's rainforests

We're working to give rainforests a future.

We’ve acquired more than 100 sites which are part of the precious rainforest and we’re now using our expertise to restore them back to full health. And we are part of the Alliance for Scotland's Rainforest — a voluntary partnership of 26 organisations that are working together to save Scotland’s rainforest.

For the future, we're spearheading similar collaborations to save the rainforests of Wales and England.


We care for five sites in Scotland's rainforest zone including our largest and most impressive sites: Loch Arkaig Pine Forest and Ben Shieldaig Estate. We've been working hard on our own sites and with neighbouring landowners to restore and expand woodland, carefully removing non-native trees and planting local species that are well adapted to conditions there.

Thanks to this work, wildlife is flourishing as lower plants have returned to the forest floor and pine marten, red squirrel and osprey thrive once again.


Two of our woods in the rainforest zone in Wales include Coed Felenrhyd and Llennyrch. The rainforest belt here was so damaged, many deemed restoration unlikely to succeed. But we have worked sensitively and gradually to transform the habitat: uncovering beautiful filmy ferns, mosses and liverworts and surviving communities of rare lichen — including species like blackberries and custard which had not been recorded anywhere else in Wales. 


From Ausewell's rugged, dramatic vistas and the damp flower-rich meadows of Bovey Valley to the lush landscapes of Fingle, the county of Devon has the potential to be a temperate rainforest paradise. But, the increase in temperatures and the decrease in rainfall, particularly last summer, means England's South West rainforest zone is facing distinct challenges from climate change.

Time is running out for our precious rainforests

Dozens of fragile woods along the rainforest zone need expert care to survive, and we'll do everything we can.

Money raised from this appeal will go towards our work to protect, restore and create native woodland across the UK including that which relates to saving endangered rainforest.

These are difficult times, but every pound we receive will make a difference to our conservation work with woods, trees and wildlife across the UK. Your donation will be used where it is needed most.



Prefer to donate offline?
By phone

Call us on 0330 333 3300 between 8.30am and 5.00pm Monday to Friday and our friendly team will be there to assist.

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Send a cheque to our head office at Woodland Trust, Kempton Way, Grantham, Lincolnshire, NG31 6LL. Please make cheques payable to The Woodland Trust.