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The Temperate Rainforests on your Doorstep.

Imagine a magical world where dappled sunlight filters through tangled oaks. Trickling streams meander past moss-covered rocks, and a gentle breeze whispers through the trees. The air is damp and cool, with a slight hint of ocean on the breeze. Bird song rings through the air; the calls of jays, pied flycatchers, and redstarts. A fox sneaks through the trees, giving a glimpse of her tail before she is gone. 

This magical place is a rainforest. But unlike its tropical counterparts, it can be found right here in the UK!

Padley Gorge, Peak District. One of the furthest inland examples of temperate rainforests in the UK. (C) Cheryl Burns.

What is a temperate rainforest? 

Found along the west coast of Britain and parts of Northern Ireland, temperate rainforests are characterised by moderate temperatures and high levels of rainfall. They are found in areas influenced by ocean air. The high humidity levels allow a variety of moisture-loving plants to thrive here. Epiphytes (plants that grow on other plants) such as mosses, lichen and ferns are an iconic feature of UK rainforests. Even the rocks and stones are covered in moss carpets, giving the whole environment a beautiful green glow. Sessile oaks, rowan, ash, hazel and birch are just some of the tree species you can find here. 

Why are temperate rainforests important?

Temperate rainforests are amazing places. Not only do they offer captivating fairytale-like scenery to visitors, but they also boast a rich diversity of plant and animal life. 

Several rare mosses, lichens and ferns only grow in UK rainforests. Migrant birds like the redstart and pied flycatcher spend their summers here, feasting on the abundance of insect life in temperate rainforests. Even rare UK mammals, such as pine martens and red squirrels, can be found in some locations. 

(C) Lukas Kadava, Redstart - Pearse O'Halloran, Red Squirrel.

Unfortunately, temperate rainforests are thought to be even more at risk than tropical rainforests. Just 1% of land in the UK is now home to temperate rainforests, and land-use changes, overgrazing, invasive species, disease and climate change threaten these remaining patches.

While many people remain unaware of their presence, temperate rainforests are beginning to gain more media attention. Guy Shrubsole of The Lost Rainforests of Britain website recently crowdsourced a map of UK rainforests. These unique habitats are gaining the attention of environmental organisations, the government and even the royal family, with projects to protect and expand these habitats becoming more common.

As we mark the International Day of Forests, we invite you to celebrate temperate rainforests with us. Find out if there is a rainforest near you, explore it, or send us pictures of your rainforest.


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