Plants are essential to everyone's lives. Welcome to Plantlife.

MSP unlocks Scotland’s Celtic Rainforest

Champion of Scotland’s rare woodlands, Michael Russell, to unlock the secrets of Glen Nant Woods, at special launch event

February 12 2016

Tree lungwort © Ray Woods/Plantlife

Tree lungwort © Ray Woods/Plantlife

Glen Nant Woods is situated within one of Scotland's most wonderful but severely threatened habitats - the Atlantic Woodlands.

Otherwise known as the "Celtic rainforest", these mild temperate woods are internationally important and rarer around the world than some tropical rainforest! 

On Saturday 13th February Michael Russell, MSP of Argyll and Bute, will open a special event celebrating the woods - including a new guided walk for when the weather improves.

Michael has been an enthusiastic supporter of Scotland's Celtic rainforest. Back in October, he put forward a motion - stating Plantlife Scotland’s work to conserve the Atlantic woodlands with the help of partner organisations - to the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood which led to a Celtic Rainforest Member’s business debate on January 5th. MSP’s from different parties, including the Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform – Aileen McLeod, put forward their support to encourage greater awareness and conservation efforts for the habitat.

Michael Russell says “I admit to being growingly aware of the rich variety of the lichens that we have as our heritage in Scotland, particularly in the Celtic rainforests, and growingly concerned at the very real threats to them. That is the primary reason why I sought this debate—to draw attention to those threats, to inspire action from parliamentarians and Government, and to celebrate the work that is already being done to protect and conserve the lichens”. 

Mike has become the Species Champion of tree lungwort - a beautiful lichen that lives in the woodlands in and around Argyll. 

Why are they so important?

  • In the UK there are only 3 places where these temperate rainforests thrive - In South west England, Wales and the West coast of Scotland - the gulf stream provides these locations with an exact climate of not too hot and not too cold - this specific and unique climate is what makes them so special.
  • They are also special because they support a huge number of important plant species that don't grow anywhere else! - namely masses of lower plants such as lichens and mosses, that rely on this extraordinary habitat and conditions to survive. Species of lichen such as Octopus Suckers, Black-eyed Susan and Smokey Joe all thrive here! They are as beautiful and as mysterious as they sound. 
  • A typical ravine in Argyll has as many as 200 species of mosses and liverworts. These species have been growing for millennia in some of the rainforests’ most remote ravines. One woodland in Knapdale, Argyll, supports 25% of Britain's entire mosses and liverworts.

So what is the problem?

The Celtic rainforest and its internationally important plants are under threat from invasive rhododendron, which is shading out  the habitat. Plantlife is working with land managers and communities across the west coast, including families, schools and children, to put these secret gems back on the map and save this important aspect of Scotland's natural heritage. Landowners will be given advice on how best to manage these habitats to ensure the woodlands and species within them have a future. In some parts of Scotland, change in land use has also threatened these habitats survival.

What are we doing?

Plantlife is working on a huge three year project to raise awareness within the local community and beyond of this magical world that is just beyond our doorsteps. We are working with land-owners, schools, groups and visitors to unlock this secretive habitat and welcome people in to explore, walk, and look close up at these precious lower plants. Blink and you might miss some of them. 

Related information