Main banner photo by Steve Carter

The Knapdale Landscape Scale Restoration Project is currently underway,  and we are working with landowners and communities in the area to develop and deliver landscape scale restoration, starting with the control of Rhododendron ponticum.  We will also work in partnership with landowners and communities to promote appropriate deer control to further the restoration of native woodland.

We completed drone surveys for Rhododendron in part of North Knapdale in early 2023. These areas are being developed into the delivery phase of Rhododendron clearance through a variety of funding streams.

Arial drone image of rhododendron in forest

Drone still of Rhododendron ponticum on site in Knapdale

Knapdale boasts clear geographical boundaries, bordered by sea lochs on three sides, with the Crinan Canal and Mhoine Mhor site of special scientific interest (SSSI) defining its northern edge. Covering approximately 40,000 hectares, it lies within the Rainforest zone and hosts numerous woodland SSSIs, Special Areas of Converation sites, and areas of ancient native and semi-natural woodland amidst production forest land.

This globally important habitat is facing significant threats from conflicting land use objectives, over-browsing by herbivores and invasive species such as Rhododendron ponticum.  There is a high proportion of publicly owned and managed land.  While we have engaged positively with various stakeholders, including landowners and communities interested in rainforest restoration, our consultation efforts remain ongoing.. So, if you are a landowner in the area who would like to discuss this with us, we would very much welcome your thoughts and insights.

Project aims

  • Collaborate with landowners and local communities to promote Rainforest restoration, starting with large population scale Rhododendron control.
  • Develop a Rainforest Discussion Forum with the aim of effectively implementing a Rainforest Strategy
  • Engage volunteers and promote opportunities for rainforest initiatives.
  • Explore funding models, including private finance,to invest in rainforest natural capital.
  • Develop a trained workforce (Rainforest Squad) to undertake restoration activities. 
  • Establish a woodland hub. 
  • Reduce herbivore impact to a level at which natural regeneration can occur.
  • Identify opportunities for rainforest integration and reconnectivity throughout Knapdale's landscape.Explore integration of rainforest into agricultural practices through farm woodland development and agroforestry.
  • Pilot findings from the FIRNS (Facility for Investment Ready Nature in Scotland) funded project.

Lichen and moss on a branch

Sticta, Pannaria, Leptogium, Frullania in amongst the pin cushion moss, photo by Ian Dow/ACT

Project partners

Argyll and the Isles Coast and Countryside Trust (ACT) leads the initiative, working closely with partners such as NatureScot and Forestry and Land Scotland. The ACT Rainforest steering group oversees project strategy and implementation.


ACT is establishing a Rainforest Forum to involve landowners, agencies, and contractors in shaping restoration efforts. in Knapdale. We have drafted a strategy and Terms of Reference for the forum to be discussed and agreed by the membership when this gets started.  
For surveys, we have agreements in principle with landowners with whom we are working and where work is progressed to delivery of any intervention, we have legal agreements with landowners on whose land we are working.

We are also working with community groups and volunteers on initiatives such as seed collection.  This is an area we hope to develop and expand.


The project relies on a combination of public and private funding sources, with estimated costs exceeding £5 million.  

Useful Resources 

For more information contact: Philippa McKee, ACT Woodland Coordinator: [email protected]