We usually associate rainforests with distant places, but there is a commitment to restoring the rainforests located on our doorsteps. Tropical rainforests are mainly located in the tropics with temperatures between 21 and 30 degrees. In contrast temperate rainforests are found in much cooler places with high rainfall and humidity and low variation temperatures. Predominantly they are located in coastal and upland areas such as the UK, Japan and New Zealand. On a global scale, temperate rainforests are rare in comparison to tropical rainforests.
In the UK, temperate rainforests are also known as Atlantic woodland or Celtic rainforests and make up less than 1% of Britain. They can be found on the West Coast of Scotland, North and West Wales, Devon and Cornwall, Cumbria and Northern Ireland.
The benefits of temperate rainforests are significant as they are home to a range of biologically diverse species such as oceanic lichens, fungi and mosses. In addition, temperate rainforests in the UK cater to globally scarce organisms such as hazel gloves fungus and provide nesting hubs for migrant birds due to the rare insects.
Over the years the temperate rainforests in the UK have been destroyed, with Woodland Trust describing them as “more threatened than tropical rainforests”. With the impending UK’s net zero target (by 2050) and emphasis on improving biodiversity, there have been calls for government intervention to help restore and protect the natural environment. Although there were positive signs as the Government appointed Federated Homes and Finance Earth on 2 November 2022, as the fund managers for the Big Nature Impact Fund, we await further information from the Government on the specifics of these plans.
There has been an influx of private funding by trusts, private individuals, and other investors into the restoration of temperate rainforests. For instance, Aviva recently provided funding of £38 million to the Wildlife Trusts as part of a wider initiative to improve biodiversity. The initiative would help restore temperate rainforests in the UK while assisting with the current climate crisis through increased opportunities for removing and storing carbon from the atmosphere.
According to recent news, Prince William has announced plans to double the size of Wistman’s Wood, a temperate rainforest located on the Dartmoor royal estate, through natural regeneration. Additionally, in the south of England, Devon Wildlife Trusts is introducing a 30-hectare site (called Bowden Pillars Farm) to home threatened birds and other native species.
The campaign to restore and expand temperate rainforests is an example of a growing range of nature-based solutions designed to help meet the UK’s net zero target - and is one which landowners with fragments of temperate rainforest on their land or companies looking to invest in nature based solutions as part of their own net zero targets may wish to consider.
Further information about temperate rainforests in the UK can be found here.
Temperate rainforest used to cover 20% of Britain, including large swathes of Dartmoor, but centuries of deforestation means it now covers less than 1% of the country.