Main Banner Image of the Kyles of Bute by Ian Dow/ACT

Bounded by Loch Striven and Loch Fyne, the West Cowal Habitat Restoration Project area includes the peninsulas of Kilfinan and Colintraive, which encapsulate the Kyles of Bute National Scenic Area and Isle of Bute. This area of over 45,000 hectares contains a mosaic of natural habitats that includes remnant and fragmented temperate rainforest. This globally important habitat is facing significant threats from conflicting land use objectives, over-browsing by herbivores and invasive species such as Rhododendron ponticum.

Landscape of Aspen trees

Colintraive Aspen, photo by Ian Dow/ACT

Our ambitious project aims to take cooperative action at a landscape scale to protect, restore, expand and reconnect the remnant and fragmented temperate rainforest and other natural habitats in the West Cowal area. Engaging with communities and building the capacity to deliver habitat restoration and maintain a resilient, diverse, natural environment that can contribute towards tackling the climate emergency and biodiversity crisis.

Project aims

  • To seek contribution from and work cooperatively with local communities, community groups, contractors, landowners and managers to maximise the opportunity to protect, restore, expand and reconnect natural habitats across a complex pattern of land use, interest and existing management objectives.
  • Restore, expand and reconnect temperate rainforest across approx. 10,000 hectares of coastal opportunity.
  • Reduce herbivore impact to a level at which natural regeneration can occur.
  • Eradicate R. ponticum from across approx. 1,500 hectares of the Kyles of Bute and Glendaruel catchment, alongside a further 1,500 hectares of predominantly coastal infestation.
  • Deliver restoration enhancement techniques at R. ponticum eradication sites.
  • Carry out native woodland creation where temperate rainforest has been severely disrupted, establishing a viable diverse seed source to enable natural expansion when herbivore impact has been reduced.
  • Identify opportunities to reconnect and integrate temperate rainforest throughout the productive forestry landscape of West Cowal.
  • Identify opportunities to integrate temperate rainforest into the agricultural landscape via woodland pasture development and agroforestry practices.
Photos by Ian Dow/ACT

Nephroma laevigatum    Plagiochila spinulosa    Trametes versicolor

Nephroma laevigatum                             Plagiochila spinulosa                              Trametes versicolor

Project partners

Partnerships already established in West Cowal include community woodlands such as Glenan, Bute and Stronafian, multiple private landholdings and non-landowning organisations such as local development trusts and The Kyles Coastal Community group. In addition, ACT work alongside the Alliance for Scotland’s Rainforest, NatureScot and Forestry and Land Scotland towards a shared goal of restoring temperate rainforest across Scotland. We aim to build upon these relationships and develop further partnership opportunities as the project progresses.


Click here to download the maps: West Cowal Ancient & Native Woodland and West Cowal Heatmap

West Cowal Native and Ancient Woodland Map          

       West Cowal Ancient and Native Woodland       
West Cowal Heatmap
       West Cowal Heatmap                                         

Funding requirement

With funding secured via the Priceless Planet Coalition to deliver 60 hectares of native woodland creation across West Cowal, alongside working alongside Glenan Community Woodland to find a route towards Rhododendron clearance from ancient Oak and Birch woodland, the project is well underway. However, the estimated cost to deliver the project aims are expected to exceed £5 million. 

Useful Resources

For more information contact Ian Dow, ACT Woodland Coordinator: [email protected]