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Hazel Gloves Fungus’ common name comes from the finger-like projections of the stromata, cushion-like plate of solid mycelium. Found on Hazel trees in Britain, it is actually parasitic on the Glue Crust fungus Hymenochaete corrugate, and not the Hazel tree itself.

It was incredibly exciting to find Hazel Glove fungus. I knew about its importance as a rainforest indicator species and also its rarity status. I had seen many photos of it and so when I turned to take a second look at something I saw in the corner of my eye, I knew at once what it was.

I couldn’t share my unbridled joy at my discovery with anyone else in that moment, unless you include telling the singing Dipper I had just spotted or indeed talking to myself about it as I walked back along the trail. However, I was able to capture that moment on camera to relive again.

What does finding Hazel Gloves Fungus tell us?

Hazel Glove fungus is an indicator of good air quality and temperate rainforest conditions, making it a flagship species for this threatened habitat. Temperate rainforests are found in areas that are influenced by the sea, with high rainfall and humidity and damp climate.

They are home to some intriguing and sometimes rare bryophytes, plants and fungi. Plantlife are working in many ways to protect and restore this globally threatened habitat. 

Fungi need you to find them!

I have since sent in my record to the county fungi recorder with a 10 figure grid reference, only to discover that this species has not been officially recorded in that area before, which only heightened my sense of achievement.

Recording fungi and sending your finds to local wildlife recorders creates a more accurate picture of the wild and wonderful world around us – and helps people like us know where to target conservation efforts.

It’s estimated that more than 90% of fungi are unknown to science, and only 0.4% of the fungi we know about have enough data to be assessed for global conservation status – letting us know if they’re critically endangered or not.

Learn more about fungi

Finding Hazel Gloves Fungus: Why Recording Matters

Finding Hazel Gloves Fungus: Why Recording Matters

Hazel Gloves Fungus is a priority species on the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, learn more about this rainforest fungi this Reverse the Red month.

Protecting Waxcaps: All the Losses We Cannot See…

Protecting Waxcaps: All the Losses We Cannot See…

Britain’s waxcap grasslands are considered to be the best in Europe. Discover the pressures these colourful fungi and their habitats face…

Half term idea: Family fungi fun
Sarah Shuttleworth with a Parasol Macrolepiota Procera

Half term idea: Family fungi fun

Fungi are one of our most fascinating creations, and best of all, they are right under our noses – perfect for children to spot.

“Lichens are cool because they are everywhere. Once you notice them, you realise they are crazy, weird, colourful and interesting.”

Rob Hodgson started his lichen journey in lockdown as a complete beginner. Walking around Bristol one day, a lichen peaked his interest and from then on he was gripped by these secret miniature forests.

As an illustrator, Rob has created dynamic and lifelike lichen characters to help more people starting out.

We went to chat to Rob and join him on a lichen hunt.

Man looking at a tree for lichens

What’s it like as a lichen beginner?

“It was kind of my lockdown project and I just got interested one day, like what is this crazy thing. When I first started looking at lichens, you go online and there’s a million Latin names and I was just like, no this isn’t for me – I’m not a lichen expert. But once you learn the common names and you start to spot different ones, it gets easier. You don’t have to go anywhere far away, you can see these things just on the street. There’s one called chewing Chewing Gum lichen that you can see everywhere once you tune into it, just on the pavement.

Where are all these lichens?

“You do definitely notice if you go to the countryside, it’s like a lichen explosion. But I live in the centre of Bristol pretty much and there’s still lichens everywhere. On my doorstep, you see them on the pavements, you see them on walls and in my local parks there’s loads of lichens.

It’s a really good time of year to go lichen hunting [autumn/winter] and you don’t need any stuff. You can just go and as soon as you get out of the house you are on a lichen hunt – that’s as easy as it is. You just need to look on the floor, look in the tress and you’re good to go.

Let’s meet the lichen characters…

Rob Hodgson looking for lichens on a wall

How did you make the lichen characters?

“The way I work things out sometimes is through my work. When I was looking at lichens, I thought how can I make this more interesting than all of these super technical, botanical drawings. I drew one, and then once you notice one, you notice another, and then all of sudden I had drawn 20 different lichens.

There was a lot of back and forth between going out and looking at lichens and going back and modifying them.

That was where I was coming from, trying to make them fun and accessible.”

 

Rob has made beautifully designed lichen characters including dust lichen, shield lichen and oak moss. Follow him on social media here.

Characterised by the presence of unique lichens, bryophytes, mosses, and liverworts, rainforest habitats are highly fragmented and face threats from invasive non-native species, such as Rhododendron ponticum, alongside ash dieback, inappropriate grazing, and air pollution. 

How governments can protect and restore this internationally-rare habitat

Temperate rainforests have some of the highest diversity and abundance of wild plants and fungi in Britain, with many sites qualifying as Important Plant Areas.

Protecting and restoring this ecosystem would speed up progress in meeting national and global targets to address the nature and climate emergencies, including the 2030 Global Biodiversity Framework. Investment in rainforest restoration would also build on past and present conservation actions, and help to build a green economy through employment, skills training and tourism. 

 

The future of Britain’s temperate rainforest and its unique species depends on targeted action by the Scottish, UK and Welsh Governments to:    

1. Establish national rainforest funds from both public and private sources to support long-term landscape-scale projects and other practical action.

a) The Alliance for Scotland’s Rainforest has identified the cost of restoring the temperate rainforest zone in Scotland to be £500 million.   

2. Increase protection of remaining rainforest sites and species through national strategy, policy, and legislation.  

3. Provide advice and support for land managers to enhance and restore rainforest on their land.  

4. Take urgent action to tackle key threats to rainforest including air pollution, invasive non-native species (INNS), and deer management.

a) More than 94% of the UK’s woodland is impacted by excess nitrogen deposited through air pollution and rainfall. Lichens are essential species in temperate rainforests, but they need clean air to thrive. Lichens provide food, shelter, and microhabitats for invertebrates, in addition to carbon cycling and water retention.  

b) Invasive non-native species, like Rhododendron ponticum and ash dieback currently have the potential to wipe out much of the species diversity in Britain’s temperate rainforests. Funding projects that address this, in addition to making powers of enforcement more widely known and used where necessary, give rainforests to chance to thrive.  

c) Deer are a natural part of thriving temperate rainforest areas; however, at their current population density, particularly within Scotland, their grazing prevents essential tree species from growing and this leads to a decrease in long-term regeneration of woodland areas.  

Our work

A Temperate Rainforest Strategy for England:
branches and tree covered with lichens

A Temperate Rainforest Strategy for England:

A new English government strategy for temperate rainforest has been released, but restoring the rainforest in England requires a more detailed approach that recognises and addresses the threats. To put the rainforest on the path to recovery, concrete action is needed.

Government Action for Temperate Rainforests 

Government Action for Temperate Rainforests 

Discover how Plantlife is working with governments to protect and restore temperate rainforest along the Atlantic coast of Britain.

Saving species in Devon and Cornwall’s rainforests
Wistmands Wood Building resilience rainforest

Saving species in Devon and Cornwall's rainforests

Our wild and wet woodlands and the species that live within them are facing severe threats which Plantlife will be tackling through the Species Recovery Project.

Full of wonder and mossy goodness these beauties really capture the imagination and lift the spirits of anyone who visits. This unique habitat thrives in areas where there is a high annual rainfall with relatively constant temperatures.

However, temperate rainforests are more than just woodlands; they are a mosaic of trees, open glades, crags, ravines, rocks and gorges. With surfaces absolutely chock full of liches, mosses, liverworts and an array of fungi – they support an important array of wildlife, absorb carbon and slow the flow of floodwaters.  

What is damaging the temperate rainforests in the UK?

Nitrogen gases in air pollution have the potential to destroy these beautiful places. This pollution can take the form of ammonia emissions from farm manures and fertilisers, or nitrogen oxide emissions from fossil fuels.

Even rainforest areas far from the source of pollution, such as the northwest coast of Scotland, are affected by air pollution as it can travel long distances in the atmosphere.  

Trees within the rainforest will temporarily show increased growth from extra nitrogen. However, in the long term any growth will soon stagnate as the earth becomes saturated with excess nitrogen – more than 94% of woodlands are affected by air pollution UK wide.

Higher nitrogen levels mean trees will often suffer from discoloration and increased vulnerability to drought, frost, and disease like acute oak decline.   

Woodland fungi are no exception to impacts of air pollution, as many are closely associated with tree roots and health.

Their loss will result in a further decline of tree species, leading to increasing carbon emissions and further contributing to the ongoing climate crisis. 

How does air pollution affect our wild plants?

A change in flora is sure to follow an increase in air pollution as tougher nitrogen-tolerant plants, such as nettles and brambles, will outcompete the more sensitive and specialist species within the rainforest. This has a cascading effect on other wildlife which rely on certain wild plants for food, shelter, and reproduction.  

Losing species which make up a significant part of the rainforest ground cover, such as mosses and liverworts like Greater Whipwort, reduces the ecosystem’s ability to retain water. This makes the whole area more vulnerable to droughts and floods.   

Facing the loss of lichens

As an essential part of temperate rainforests, lichens require low levels of air pollution to thrive. Lichens provide food, shelter and microhabitats for invertebrates, in addition to contributing to carbon cycling and water retention. Some rare lichen species are only found in rainforest areas and are being pushed to the brink of extinction.

Without lichens, our temperate rainforests would struggle even more to survive. Many are incredibly sensitive to changes in air quality, such as tree lungwort (Lobaria spp) and will quickly be lost to increased levels of nitrogen in the atmosphere.  

Tree Lungwort in particular is an amazing indicator species, as its presence signals that the forest is healthy and functioning as it should. This is because it is a slow growing species that is even more sensitive to air pollution than most other lichens.

Tree Lungwort often can become outcompeted and swamped in nitrogen-tolerant algae, knocking the ecosystem out of balance. When we see populations of lungwort recovering, we know that our air quality is improving and with that, the rainforest. 

How can I help protect temperate rainforest for the future?

Hope is not lost! For one, you are reading this and arming yourself with information to pass onto your family and friends. When you take action on air pollution, you’re benefiting wildlife as well as people’s health.

You can also support Plantlife’s work to inspire further action to reduce air pollution and tackle its impacts on our natural environment.  

Discover more about temperate rainforest

Finding Hazel Gloves Fungus: Why Recording Matters

Finding Hazel Gloves Fungus: Why Recording Matters

Hazel Gloves Fungus is a priority species on the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, learn more about this rainforest fungi this Reverse the Red month.

Lichens: A Beginner in a City
Rob Hodgson with lichen characters

Lichens: A Beginner in a City

Living in Bristol, Rob Hodgson went on his own lichen journey, showing how anyone can go lichen hunting from anywhere.

We are Heading to Dubai for Global Climate Talks
Person wearing a hat smiling

We are Heading to Dubai for Global Climate Talks

Our Global Advocacy Coordinator, Claire Rumsey, will be at COP28 to speak up for the vital role of wild plants and fungi in the fight against climate change.

Why are Plantlife protecting south-west England’s rainforests?

Temperate rainforests are one of Britain and Ireland’s most important habitats. Like any rainforest around the world, they are home to a vast diversity of plants, with some species at risk of extinction as this habitat is their only known home. Temperate rainforest in south-west England tends to be less wet and somewhat warmer than its counterparts elsewhere in the UK, and it is therefore important for a number of ‘southern oceanic’ lichen and bryophyte species that are rare or absent elsewhere in the UK and Europe.

Britain’s temperate rainforests are just as special and spectacular as their tropical cousins but are actually even rarer

In Britain the horsehair lichen Bryoria smithii is only known from two rainforest sites in Devon where its entire population would fit comfortably on two sheets of A4 paper and Arthonia thoriana, an achingly rare comma lichen, is not known from anywhere else in the world other than at Horner Wood in Somerset.

Life after death: rare lichens saved from dying trees

Focusing conservation efforts on what rainforest remains is crucial. Practical conservation on the ground has safeguarded five especially vulnerable rainforest sites across Somerset and Devon by clearing invasive species, letting more light in through the canopy and creating a future generation of veteran trees. In total, 73 hectares of temperate rainforest have been directly managed under the project with a further 162 hectares coming under better management as a result of training land managers across the region. Regionally threatened lichens – including the spectacular and rare Tree Lungwort Lobaria pulmonaria that resembles human lungs – have been successfully translocated from ash trees threatened by Ash Dieback to nearby Hazel, Oak, and Sycamore trees.

Citizen science volunteers rediscovered 15 fragments of lost rainforest

What’s next for our rainforests?

Thanks to the National Lottery players, the National Lottery Heritage Fund (HLF) awarded Plantlife £433,700 to protect the south-west rainforests. The legacy of this project included the release of groundbreaking expert management guidance by Plantlife.

The guidelines, the first interactive, online version to be produced by Plantlife to outline how best to look after these temperate woodlands for the benefit of lichens, ferns and bryophytes (mosses and liverworts) are decades in the making and an output of pioneering conservation work.

These pioneering guidelines will safeguard some of our most rare and threatened lichen communities in the temperate rainforest of Devon, Somerset and Cornwall for the future.

Toolkit for woodland managers

Rapid rainforest assessment guidance

Rapid rainforest assessment survey

Asesiad Coedwig Law Cyflym

Asesiad Coedwig Law Cyflym Fflyrflen Arolygu

I’m lucky enough to have worked in our temperate rainforests for well over a decade now, and although much of our recent work here at Plantlife has had a focus on rainforest areas of England, through our LOST project in the Lake District and the Building Resilience project in South-West England, both funded by  the National Lottery Heritage Fund, I’ve had the opportunity to get out into some of our Welsh rainforest in past weeks and been reminded just how special they are.

Lungwort at Dolmelynllyn

The first of these visits was to the National Trust’s Dolmelynllyn estate at Ganllwyd to look at some transplants of Lungwort lichens that we undertook 5 years ago. This was initially an attempt to rescue these lichens from an old Ash tree that was literally clothed in Lungwort lichens, of three varieties, that blew down in a summer gale. Transplanting these big leafy species is relatively straightforward to do in practical terms but hard to get right, the skill is in finding the right niche and one that’s away from the chomping teeth of slugs.

Success is far from guaranteed, and the majority of these transplants had succumbed to slug browsing. There were some notable successes though, with this ‘lob scrob’ Lobarina scrobiculata thriving on a Sycamore, all the better as this is one of the rarer lungwort lichens in Wales. The area where this was transplanted has spectacular communities of lichens on old Ash, Oak and Sycamore trees, probably the best display of lungwort lichens in Wales with abundant Tree Lungwort Lobaria pulmonaria, Parchment Lichen Ricasolia amplissima, ‘Stinky Stictas’ Sticta fuliginosa and Sticta sylvatica and Blue Jelly-skin Leptogium cyanescens.

Up in the clouds at Trawsfynydd

Another site visit took me to a remote woodland near Trawsfynydd where we’re helping Natural Resources Wales work out how best to manage this woodland. Although only a few miles up the road from Ganllwyd this is a very different woodland to Dolmelynllyn being at higher altitude and exposed to higher levels of rainfall this favours different communities of lichen and bryophyte with what could be considered our ‘cloud-forest’ lichens and a rich ‘hyperoceanic’ bryophyte flora including many rare species.

This has also reminded me just how diverse our rainforest is, in the same that way that no two wetlands, estuaries or mountains are the same, no bit of temperate rainforest is the same. They all differ according to geology, topography, aspect, climate, history, management etc; our temperate rainforest in South-West England is quite different to that in Western Scotland, with Wales somewhere in between. They are especially influenced by ‘oceanicity’ – the degree to which proximity to the Atlantic influences climate – and broadly speaking they are drier and sunnier to the south and much wetter to the north.

This basically means that you’ll never see the same things twice and there’s a lifetime of exploration to be had. I’d urge anyone to grab a hand lens (by no means essential, but definitely helps appreciate the small things) and head out to explore.

Some of my favourite rainforests to visit in Wales are:

  • The National Trust’s Hafod y Llan and the woodlands of Nant Gwynant, nestling below Snowdon
  • The Woodland Trust’s Coed Felinrhyd and Llennyrch in Dyffryn Ffestiniog
  • The National Trust’s Dolmelynllyn at Ganllwyd, north of Dolgellau
  • RSPB’s Coed Garth Gell, on the Mawddach west of Dolgellau
  • North Wales Wildlife Trust’s Coed Crafnant in Dyffryn Artro
  • Natural Resources Wales’ Coed Cwm Cletwr, south of Machynlleth
Wales Farming News
Black cow and white cow in Welsh Upland background trees and hills.

Wales Farming News

Agricultural grasslands dominate Wales’ rural landscape. Finding ways to restore species-rich habitats to farms is a priority for Plantlife Cymru.

Rare Fungus spotted at Kenfig National Nature Reserve
Brown topped fungus with yellow gills in a green grassy area.

Rare Fungus spotted at Kenfig National Nature Reserve

Chris Jones, the Warden of Kenfig National Nature Reserve, recently found the very rare fungus, during a routine survey.

How to Stand up for Wildlife and Protect Local Sites From Being Destroyed
Crop spraying.

How to Stand up for Wildlife and Protect Local Sites From Being Destroyed

Every day, our wild plants and fungi are put at risk from planning decisions, chemical sprays and more. Find out what you can do to help protect nature.

Look, the seasons, they are a-changing and I don’t know about you, but I am so looking forward to that sweet, sweet spring time weather. After the cold winter days and long winter nights, I am so ready to get out there and breathe in the freshness of spring.

Glen Nant – Scotland Rainforest

I would highly recommend taking a visit to one of Scotland’s rainforests if you have the opportunity. The high rainfall, and mild temperatures result in lush mossy areas just bursting with lichens and bryophytes it really does feel like I’ve stepped into a fairy tale. And if that doesn’t attract your attention then you’ll be impressed with the sheer abundance, diversity, and rarity of the species of Scotland’s rainforest.

It won’t be my first visit to the temperate rainforest; however, I’ve visited Glen Nant in the past. Plantlife has a downloadable handy wild plant walk leaflet for the Glen Nant Important Plant Area (IPA), so it was a solid motivation for a visit for me.

Cuckooflower.

North Berwick Law for a Grassland Hike

But I hear you ask, what if I don’t want to visit a rainforest site? Looking for something short and located in the central belt?

Then download and check out North Berwick Law, our guide is for a nice 1 mile hike up one iconic hill in East Lothian. Plenty of opportunity to spot wild plants too, like Meadow Saxifrage Saxifraga granulata, this snow-white species is found in dry grasslands, or the hilariously named Cuckooflower Cardamine pratensis, due to its delicate purple flowers starting to bloom just as the cuckoo first begins its call.

Dewy Red and orange hairs or trendrils of the sundrew plant

Ben Nevis

If you’re the Munro bagging type, then check out the Ben Nevis IPA, a delightful 10-mile hike that is absolutely rich in Bog Asphodel Narthecium ossifragum a plant once used for its potential as a natural dye or the delightfully carnivorous Round-leaved Sundew Drosera rotundifolia  (image by Michael Scott) which have long red-coloured stalks that are often seen with globules of ‘dew’ hanging from them. These globules are a polysaccharide solution to trap and digest their prey.

Anagach Woods, Cairngorms

If you’re keen to spend a day out in the Cairngorms, take some time to discover Anagach woods IPA. Download your a free guide here. Soak in the wonders of the Caledonian pinewoods, maybe you’ll spot the rare and iconic Twinflower Linnaea borealis? This special plant is a focal point for our Cairngorms Rare Plants Project. You might also find some Wood sorrel Oxalis acetosella, with its clover-shaped leaves (that taste like apples), this springtime bloomer has delicate white flowers with lilac coloured veins.

Mountains, meadows, rainforests, peat bogs, long or short there’s plenty of space for everyone. I’m looking forward to getting out there and stretching my legs, are you?

 

 

From Cape Wrath to Argyll, the West Coast of Scotland Important Plant Area (IPA) contains most of Scotland’s temperate rainforests. It is here that Plantlife is engaging landowners and West Coast communities to restore and protect rainforest. 

What is Temperate Rainforest?

Temperate rainforest is a rare habitat worldwide- rarer than even tropical rainforests! The special ‘oceanic’ climate where temperate rainforests are found is very wet and wild. This is due to landscape and warm ocean currents. There are remaining pockets of rainforest along the west coast of Europe, but Scotland has some of the best sites. This is because of its very wet climate, unpolluted air, and ancient woodlands. 

The high rainfall and mild temperatures make woodlands humid, making it home to some of the rarest bryophytes and lichens. It is their diversity on the trees, boulders and ravines within the woodland that make Scotland’s rainforest so unique. Not only do they help maintain the humidity in the forest, but they also give it mysterious and magical feel. 

But while rainforest is one of Scotland’s most important habitats, it’s in trouble. Over the centuries the rainforest has been cleared to leave sites that are small, fragmented and isolated from each other. Almost all shows little or no regrowth due to planting over with exotic conifer, improper grazing, or being choked with Rhododendron ponticum (a non-native species). Add in the threat of ash die back, nitrogen pollution, infrastructure development, and climate change, there is great risk of losing this globally important habitat. 

What is Plantlife Doing to Help?

Our Saving Scotland’s Rainforest project is working closely with the Alliance for Scotland’s Rainforest (ASR). A voluntary partnership of organisations which all have an interest in the conservation and sustainable development of Scotland’s rainforest. 

Plantlife is also working with partners to create large-scale projects that protect and restore temperate rainforests. We are developing new ways to encourage and enable land managers to restore and expand the rainforest through the sharing of ideas, information, knowledge, and expertise. 

In the small space of three years the Scottish Government has committed to protecting this unique habitat. We aim to hold them to it. 

The future of Scotland’s temperate rainforests is bright and Plantlife is excited to be part of that future. 

Images on this page belongs to The Alliance for Scotland’s Rainforest.

 

Alison from Plantlife’s Building Resilience project visits a temperate rainforest in Dartmoor, dripping with lichens, mosses and liverworts, and a richness in diversity rivalling the cloud forest of the Andes. Watch our video to see what she finds, and discover why we need to take action to protect this precious fragment of our ancient woodlands for the future.

Still not sure if you’re walking through the rainforest?

Take a look at the guides below and see how many rainforest indicators you can spot – maybe a huge long-lived Oak tree smothered in colourful lichens, or a meandering river carving it’s way though the woodlands.

Plantlife is at the forefront of taking action for our temperate rainforests. We’re working with land managers across the UK to bring more rainforest into appropriate management, providing unique, specialist advice to collaborative partners, and campaigning for better protection for this important habitat.

Join our fight to save the UK’s rainforest by becoming a Plantlife member today.

Finding Hazel Gloves Fungus: Why Recording Matters

Finding Hazel Gloves Fungus: Why Recording Matters

Hazel Gloves Fungus is a priority species on the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, learn more about this rainforest fungi this Reverse the Red month.

Lichens: A Beginner in a City
Rob Hodgson with lichen characters

Lichens: A Beginner in a City

Living in Bristol, Rob Hodgson went on his own lichen journey, showing how anyone can go lichen hunting from anywhere.

Clean Air Means Thriving Temperate Rainforests

Clean Air Means Thriving Temperate Rainforests

Clean Air Day on June 15 is a chance to look at the impact of air pollution, not just on our physical and mental health, but the overall health of our natural environment and wildlife.