Banner image: Atlantic rainforest scene in Argyll. Photo credit: Stan Phillips

What makes our rainforest unique?

Argyll's rainforest, also known as Atlantic woodland, temperate rainforest or Celtic rainforest, is a unique and rare habitat of ancient and native woodland, open glades, boulders, rocky cliffs and river gorges. Scotland is now the last stronghold for this habitat that was once widespread along the Atlantic coast of Europe. The mild, wet climate of the west coast of Scotland provides perfect growing conditions for this diverse habitat that supports a variety of plants and animals such as oak, ash, birch, Atlantic hazel and Scot's pine trees, mosses, lichens, ferns and fungi, song birds, butterflies and mammals like red squirrels and pine martens. 

Historical management of woodland included production of charcoal, tannins and timber for shipbuilding. Nowadays the habitat contributes to a growing eco-tourism industry, is an important resource for access and recreation and can provide firewood, venison supplies and shelter for livestock. 

Read more about exploring Argyll's rainforest in our blog.

Recreational trails through Atlantic rainforest - Barnluasgan, Knapdale Forest, near Lochgilphead (photo credit: Stan Phillips)

Atlantic rainforest in Argyll

More than half of Scottish Atlantic rainforest is found in Argyll. This forms a distinct element of the landscape and contributes to some of the best scenery in Scotland. Examples of rainforest in Argyll are easy to find and explore - check out our blog for some suggestions. Sadly patches of this unique habitat are generally small, isolated and fragmented. Much of this habitat is over mature and struggling to regenerate whilst facing threats including over-grazing e.g. from deer, competing land uses e.g. commercial forestry, and invasive species e.g. Rhododendron ponticum. 

Some species found in Atlantic rainforest 
Green satin lichen Dog lichen Wood sorrel

Saving Atlantic rainforest one step at a time

The Alliance for Scotland's Rainforest is a forum of national bodies who have come together to prioritise the preservation and development of this unique habitat across Scotland. The challenge to save Scotland's rainforest is huge and needs to be approached on a large scale in order to succeed and provide a long term future for the habitat. Patches of rainforest need to be expanded and linked together and woodland management needs to be improved to create bigger and better functioning ecosystems.

The scale of the task is a bit overwhelming but ACT have come up with a solution to start addressing the challenge.

Our proposal is to create demonstration sites in Argyll where we will undertake a range of actions to strengthen and enhance the rainforest's biodiversity and it's contribution to communities and to climate change mitigation. In collaboration with NatureScot, we will work in partnership with the Alliance for Scotland's Rainforest and local groups to manage, expand and link up rainforest sites, provide access to sites for communities, gather data and map habitats to help future planning, engage with businesses to secure natural capital investment and build capacity through improving skills, enterprise, volunteering opportunities and health and wellbeing programmes. Potential partners in the project include Scottish Canals, Argyll and Bute Council, Forestry Scotland and Friends of Glenan Woods.  

We will use these sites to showcase our methods and outcomes so that they can provide a model that can be replicated and expanded across Argyll and the wider rainforest in Scotland.  We are currently working with funders and hope to be submitting applications towards the end of 2020.

Project contact

For more information contact Julie Young, [email protected]

Alder tree covered in bryophytes - Knapdale woods (photo credit: Stan Phillips) Hazel Woods - Knapdale (photo credit: Stan Phillips)