Main banner photo by Steve Carter

Argyll & the Isles Rainforest Strategy is a shared approach to protect, restore, expand and reconnect one of Argyll's most important habitats - temperate rainforest. This now globally threatened, and increasingly rare habitat is in urgent need of restoration and expansion to ensure its future

This a live document intended to provide useful reference for all those in Argyll and beyond with an interest in Rainforest restoration. It aims to support partnership working and strategic progress. It will be reviewed and updated regularly, as and when required.


The temperate rainforest found in Argyll & the Isles is a unique and rare habitat of ancient native woodland, open glades, boulders, rocky cliffs, and river gorges, forming a backdrop for some of the best scenery in the region. The hyper-oceanic climate, gentle slopes, deeply penetrating sea lochs and island network of Argyll provide the perfect conditions for this diverse rainforest habitat.

A significant amount of what remains of Scotland’s rainforest can be found in Argyll & the Isles. Sites such as Taynish, Knapdale and Ballachuan and the Isle of Mull Hazelwood’s are some of the finest examples of temperate rainforest in all of Europe. Several SSSI’s, SAC’s and NNR’s in Argyll are noted for their ancient woodland and rich lichen/bryophyte assemblages of international importance. The
restoration and expansion of Argyll’s rainforest will increase biodiversity and sequester atmospheric co2 in long-standing natural woodlands.

Historical management of woodland in the region in the form of charcoal production, tannin extraction, and timber for shipbuilding have all contributed towards the species composition we see in Argyll’s rainforests today. In the modern age native woodlands are often single aged, over mature and struggling to naturally regenerate. They face threats from invasive non-native species (INNS) such as Rhododendron ponticum, over browsing by herbivores and competing land uses such as productive forestry and agriculture. Increasingly, the habitat contributes to a growing eco-tourism industry, and is an important resource for recreation and local enterprise.

Moss and Lichen species on tree branch

Lobaria, Ricasolia, Nephroma and Pectenia, photo by Ian Dow/ACT


Argyll’s communities, agencies, individuals and businesses work cooperatively towards a shared vision – that Argyll’s rainforest will thrive once again.

  • Existing areas of temperate rainforest habitat in Argyll & the Isles will be protected and restored.
  • The mosaic of woodland and other habitats that make up the wider rainforest will be more connected, cover a larger area and be naturally regenerating.
  • Woodlands will be more species rich, having a greater abundance of the rare and exceptional mosses, liverworts alongside the other flora, fauna and fungi species that make Argyll’s rainforest so special.
  • Woodlands will be more diverse in species composition, age structure and less fragmented.
  • Developing a contiguous rainforest habitat network that is more resilient to threats such as pests, disease and climate change, and therefore better able to survive and thrive in the long term.
  • Argyll’s rainforest will contribute more to local economic activity and community wellbeing.
  • Argyll’s rainforest will be visited more, be highly valued, better understood and sensitively managed. It will be used by local businesses and communities, contributing to a rejuvenation of woodland culture in the region.


Argyll’s communities, agencies, individuals and businesses work cooperatively towards:

  • Building a common understanding of what and where Argyll’s rainforest is, the threats it faces and where the best opportunities for restoration are.
  • Building effective partnership working and alignment with regional and national partners’ strategies.
  • Identifying a range of funding options for habitat restoration within the rainforest zone.
  • Developing outreach and educational programs, alongside specialised training, qualification and job opportunities relating to rainforests and restoration activities across Argyll.


Argyll’s communities, agencies, individuals and businesses work cooperatively towards:

  • Developing regional rainforest forums that will facilitate partnership working over a landscape scale.
  • Building relations with land managers and communities to establish a collective approach to excessive herbivore impact on natural regeneration and the infrastructure necessary for effective control.
  • Developing a collective approach to INNS management at a defendable landscape, catchment or population scale.
  • Greater integration and consideration of rainforest connectivity into other land uses such as renewable energy, agriculture and productive forestry.
  • The development of Argyll & the Isles based rainforest restoration workforce.


The datasets used to generate the maps that accompany this document are:

1. Native Woodland Survey of Scotland (NWSS 2008-2012 data)

2. Designated sites – NatureScot.

ArcGIS pro tools were utilised to generate a heatmap from the NWSS dataset. In this instance it is assumed native woodland polygon density can be used to extract information relating to native woodland connectivity and continuity, giving a generalised overview of rainforest quality. This assumption does appear to broadly reflect the reality, however there are obvious discrepancies. A more granular approach to identifying rainforest quality and the potential to protect, restore, expand and reconnect these fragments should be developed.

Core rainforest:

  • Protect and halt the decline of existing high-quality remnants of rainforest across Argyll & the Isles.
  • Herbivore impact is at a level at which natural regeneration can occur.
  • They are INNS-free and there is a defendable buffer zone to prevent re-invasion.

Fragmented and expanding rainforest:

  • Connect core rainforest sites by reducing herbivore impact, allowing the rainforest to naturally regenerate. Where this is not possible, carry out seed source development via tree planting and direct seeding.
  • Creation of rainforest “stepping stones” to improve the seed source across the region.
  • Rainforest is further integrated into the agricultural landscape via farm/croft woodland development.
  • Rainforest is further integrated into the productive forestry landscape via PAWS identification & restoration, alongside utilising silvicultural techniques that promote rainforest biodiversity.
  • They are INNS-free and there is a defendable buffer zone to prevent their re-invasion.


Useful Resources

View or download the full document here: Argyll & the Isles Rainforest Strategy