Bid to save Scottish rainforest as charity takes over nature reserve

The RSPB will work to 'reverse the biodiversity crisis' by taking over the former Glencripesdale nature reserve.

RSPB launches bid to save Scotland’s rainforest after taking over Highland nature reserve RSPB/Andy Robinson

A leading wildlife charity says it is “optimistic” about boosting Scotland’s rainforest recovery from invasive species and animal traffic after taking over management of a former nature reserve.

RSPB Scotland branded Glencripesdale nature reserve a “significant piece of the fragmented jigsaw” in the country’s natural makeup after assuming stewardship of the area on the tip of the Morvern Peninsula near Loch Sunart.

The forest, which has been badly damaged by plant species including rhododendron and Sitka spruce, is estimated to be home to around 200 species of lichen and mosses in a single hectare alongside birds including the wood warbler.

The area is also under pressure from animals such as deer, which eat young seedlings and can prevent natural regeneration.

However, RSPB experts say they are hopeful the project will kick off a drive to “restore Scotland’s rainforest on a landscape scale.”

The charity’s operations director, Dave Beaumont, said: “We are excited to bring Glencripesdale under RSPB Scotland ownership and to tackle some of the issues facing this special woodland.

“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.

“We do not underestimate the challenge that this will be in such a remote area. We are grateful for the support of local people and the Sunart and Morvern community councils and are looking forward to working with them and local contractors to manage this important woodland and help to restore its former extent and value for wildlife.”

Through the Alliance for Scotland’s Rainforest, RSPB Scotland and other organisations share aims in promoting, restoring and connecting the country’s rainforests.

The alliance estimates just 30,000 hectares of Scottish rainforest remain – an area only slightly larger than the city of Edinburgh.

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 to RSPB Scotland is an exceptional opportunity for NatureScot 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, prized by RSPB Scotland as a site for the Saving Morven’s Rainforest restoration project and the wider Alliance for Scotland’s Rainforest, offers an example of what is possible through evidence-based management of our natural sites.”

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