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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.