Scotland's rainforests may be less well known than their tropical counterparts but are just as special and even rarer, experts say.

Just 1% of the planet has suitable conditions for the habitat, which supports a wide variety of insects and birds including the brightly coloured wood warbler,one of the largest of its kind in Europe

Now, a plan is underway to help protect, restore and connect Scotland’s remaining rainforest.

RSPB Scotland has taken on the stewardship of Glencripesdale nature reserve, which is located on the tip of the Morvern Peninsula on the south shore of Loch Sunart, following its sale by NatureScot.

The wildlife conservation charity hopes to restore the oak woodland as part of wider plans to preserve rainforest for the benefit of rare species and the climate. 

HeraldScotland:

Glencripesdale combines woodland, shoreline, heaths and moorland and is internationally renowned for its byophyte plants, which play an important role in the environment.

They colonise sterile soils and absorb nutrients and water and release them slowly back into the ecosystem, contributing to the formation of soil for new plants to grow on.

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In good condition, one hectare of temperate rainforest can contain as many as 200 species of lichen and 200 species of mosses and liverworts. 

They also support a wide variety of insects and birds.

Experts say much of Scotland’s rainforest has been lost and the remnants are highly fragmented and often in need of restoration due to impacts from invasive species such as Rhododendron ponticum and pressure from too many deer. 

HeraldScotland:

Deer eat young seedlings and can prevent natural regeneration and expertssay tackling these challenges can be particularly hard in remote areas.

RSPB Scotland say the Glencripesdale nature reserve is a significant piece of the fragmented jigsaw and will play an important role in their ambitions to work at a landscape scale to address the challenges facing these woodlands. 

The site was historically a commercial woodland meaning that many non-commercial species are now missing or their presence much reduced.

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The new owners of the nature reserve hope to encourage the regeneration of trees and shrubs such as aspen and holly to restore the natural diversity and expand the woodland back to its natural limits. 

Dave Beaumont, RSPB Scotland’s Operations Director for South Scotland, said: “We are excited to bring Glencripesdale under RSPB Scotland ownership and to tackle some of the issues facing this special woodland. 

HeraldScotland:

“We will need to remove invasive non-native species such as rhododendron along with Sitka spruce and reduce the impact of deer on tree regeneration. 

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“We do not underestimate the challenge that this will be in such a remote area. 

“We hope this will kick start a much bigger restoration project across the whole of Morvern helping to restore Scotland’s rainforest on a landscape scale.”

Chris Donald, NatureScot’s Head of Operations for Central Highland, added:

“Scotland’s ancient woodlands are small, fragmented and failing to thrive.

“Selling our land at Glencripesdale is an exceptional opportunity to support a major landscape-scale restoration project, as we work ambitiously with partners across all sectors to reverse the biodiversity crisis and protect 30% of Scotland’s nature by 2030.

“As we strive for a future of nature networks across Scotland, this internationally important western oak woodland offers an example of what is possible through evidence-based management of our natural sites."

Glencripesdale nature reserve is very remote with no public road and a four mile walk or cycle to the nearest carpark. 

Visitors are encouraged to visit other woodlands in the area including RSPB Scotland Glenborrodale nature reserve which has a small carpark, a rugged nature trail and summer guided walks.