Banner image: Ancient Oak in Glenan Woods,Argyll. Photo credit: Ian Dow

What makes our rainforest unique?

Argyll & Bute’s rainforest, known as temperate rainforest, consists of an increasingly rare and threatened habitat of ancient native woodland, open glades, boulders, rocky cliffs, and river gorges that form a backdrop for some of the best scenery in Argyll & Bute. The hyper-oceanic climate, gentle slopes, deeply penetrating sea lochs and island network of Argyll & Bute provide perfect growing conditions for this diverse habitat.

Half of what remains of Scotland’s rainforest can be found in Argyll & Bute. Sites such as Glasdrum, Glen Nant & Taynish NNR’s, Knapdale & Tarbet woods SSSI/SAC’s and Ballachuan hazel woods are some of the finest examples of remnant temperate rainforest in all of Europe. Several of the SSSI’s, SAC’s and NNR’s in Argyll are noted for their ancient woodland and rich lichen/bryophyte assemblages. It is a diverse habitat that supports a variety of plants and animals such as oak, ash, birch, hazel and Scots pine trees, ferns and fungi, songbirds, birds of prey, butterflies and mammals like red squirrels and pine martens. This inherently rich diversity of flora, fauna and fungi means that the restoration and expansion of Argyll’s rainforest can play a key role in Scotland meeting its biodiversity targets and achieving net-zero by 2045, by sequestering atmospheric co2 in long-standing natural woodlands.

Dalavich Argyll, photo credit Stan Phillips

Rainforest in Argyll

Historical management of woodlands in the region in the form of charcoal production, tannin extraction, and timber for shipbuilding and construction, have all contributed towards the current level of deforestation and fragmentation we see in Argyll’s rainforests. In the modern age Argyll’s native woodlands are often single aged, over mature and struggling to naturally regenerate. It faces threats from invasive non-native species (INNS) such as Rhododendron ponticum, over browsing by deer and competing land uses such as commercial forestry and sheep farming. Increasingly, the habitat contributes to a growing eco-tourism industry, and is an important resource for access, recreation and local enterprise such as the venison market.

Check out Ian’s blog to see how important ACT’s rainforest project is

Some species found in Atlantic rainforest (photos Ian Dow)
Red Eyed Shingle Lichen and Lungworts, Knapdale Lobaria Virens Mycena, Moss and Lichens, Seil

Saving Scotland's rainforest 

Only 30,000 ha of Scotland’s rainforest remains, an area approximately the size of Edinburgh. This habitat would have covered much of the west coast of Scotland, from Kintyre to Kylesku, inland to the watershed and beyond in places. The Alliance for Scotland's Rainforest is a forum of national bodies who have come together to prioritise the restoration and expansion of this unique habitat across Scotland. The challenge to save Scotland's rainforest needs to be approached on a landscape scale for it to succeed in the long term. Patches of rainforest need to be restored, expanded and reconnected and acutely in Argyll & Bute, commercial monoculture woodlands need to be diversified to enable us to create a bigger, better, more connected and functioning ecosystem.

The scale of the challenge can be overwhelming, but ACT have come up with a solution to start addressing the challenge across Argyll & Bute.

Our proposal starts with the Argyll & the Isles Rainforest Strategy. This is so that we can make informed decisions about where restoration can be most effective at a landscape scale and how best to prioritise restoration activities. We will engage and work with landowners, communities, charities, and agencies, with the aim of establishing working examples of landscape scale rainforest restoration projects in Argyll & Bute.

We have two current landscape scale rainforest restoration projects in Knapdale and West Cowal.

The Alliance for Scotland's Rainforest has created this film about Saving Scotland's Rainforest:

Developing demonstration sites where we will undertake a range of activities to strengthen and enhance the rainforest habitat. Assisting Argyll & Bute’s efforts towards tackling the twin biodiversity and climate crisis we are all facing.

Alongside working in partnership with local stakeholders to restore, expand and reconnect Argyll’s rainforest habitat, we will work towards improving access into the rainforest for communities and gather important data to help future planning. We aim to embed multigenerational rainforest restoration in Argyll & Bute, the heart of Scotland’s rainforest zone by blending public finance and natural capital investment that will increase the capacity for rainforest restoration within Argyll & Bute. Creating jobs, improving skills, facilitating opportunities for local enterprise, volunteering and health and wellbeing programmes.

Find out about our Rainforest Restoration Package

Learn about our Facility for Investment Ready Nature in Scotland (FIRNS) project

Rainforest Squad 

With the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, NatureScot, and Scottish Forestry ACT are about to kick start our latest project, the development of our dedicated Rainforest Squad who will be responsible for undertaking practical rainforest maintenance, restoration and expansion projects in Argyll. Together, we’ll build local capacity to deliver high quality rainforest projects across the region. The Squad will work alongside the wider nature restoration team at ACT, delivering specialised restoration activities to restore, expand and reconnect the remnant and fragmented rainforest, peatland and other natural habitats found in Argyll.

Find out more about our Rainforest Squad

Useful Resources

Project contact in ACT

For more information contact ACT Woodland Coordinators Ian Dow: [email protected] or Philippa McKee : [email protected] 

Glenan Woods (photo credits: Ian Dow) Silky piggyback parasitic fungi on stinking brittlegill,  Kyles of Bute