24 Nov 2023

Action to support Scotland’s rainforest

The Scottish Government has made £1 million of Forestry Grant Scheme funding available this year to support projects that help restore and expand Scotland’s rainforest area.

The rainforest area in Scotland is found in different pockets of woodland along the west coast and is estimated to be around 30,000 ha in size.

It consists of ancient oak, birch, ash, native pine and hazel woodlands and is home to internationally recognised lichens and bryophytes.

The main threats to the rainforest comes from invasive non-native plants such as rhododendron, fragmentation and from the damaging effects of deer browsing. The targeted funding will assist woodland owners tackle these threats.

To encourage more work to boost the rainforest area, Scottish Forestry is also making changes to the Forestry Grant Scheme, including:

  • Extending the target area for funding the planting of new native woodlands in the rainforest zone
  • doubling the grant for natural regeneration; and
  • improving support for rhododendron control and co-operative deer management.

Announcing the funding boost, Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said:

“We are committed to restoring and expanding our iconic Atlantic rainforest. It’s an iconic and unique Scottish treasure which needs to be restored and expanded.

“I want to see the delivery of the priority actions that the Alliance for Scotland’s Rainforest has identified accelerated. This involves action on deer management, tackling rhododendron and reducing fragmentation of the rainforest.  

“I would encourage applications to Scottish Forestry to take advantage of the funding so we can collectively work to restore our rainforest area.”

The announcement comes in advance of the Woodland Creation Summit which is being chaired by Ms Gougeon. The summit is bringing together leaders from across the forestry and land-use sectors to work on further actions to boost woodland creation rates in Scotland.

Scottish Forestry has also just approved Forestry Grant Scheme funding totalling £185,000 for two projects at Killundine Farm in Morvern and at Resipole Farm, near Loch Sunart, which are both in the rainforest zone.

Killundine will be working to exclude deer and livestock to help promote natural regeneration including more oak and hazel trees. At Resipole, the plan is to encourage regeneration and maintain open glades for butterflies.

Both these woodland projects are in areas that contain protected oakwoods and high value areas of lichens and bryophytes.

John Risby, Rainforest Action Co-ordinator with Scottish Forestry added:

 “Our local woodland officers have put in a tremendous amount of work with advisors and forestry agents to develop these two applications.

“The grant funded work helps to address the key challenges facing the rainforest of fragmentation, deer browsing and rhododendrons. By assisting the owners with FGS  funding, their work will make an important contribution to improving the condition of these extremely valuable oakwoods which make up part of the Atlantic rainforest.

“We are keen to work with other owners and crofters to help bring forward more projects. The changes to FGS announced today should really help”

Bruce Taylor of Brambletree Management Ltd, worked on the Killundie woodland scheme highlighted the interest that private owners have in playing a part in restoring and expanding the rainforest area.

He added: “Much of the rainforest is in private ownership and it is by the commitment of these owners, both financial and personal, to the important cause of managing and expanding the Atlantic Rainforest, that results are being achieved. We are working with several owners to undertake positive management to secure this highly valued native woodland resource for future generations.

“At Killundine the owner recognises the importance of these designated ancient woodlands and is keen to address the issues affecting their health and condition, including the control of deer and rhododendron, allowing the natural regeneration of woodland. The funding from the Forestry Grant Scheme makes an important contribution to this work.”

Notes to News Editors

  1. The changes to the Forestry Grant Scheme to boost rainforest restoration and expansion will:
  • Extend the Highland native woodland target area to all of Argyll providing an increase of 12.5% for planting new native woodlands within the rainforest zone in Argyll.
  • Double the payment for expanding native woodland through natural regeneration to £600/ha.
  • Encourage co-operative deer management without fencing by reducing the eligible threshold for annual deer reduction grants from 1000ha to 300ha of new native woodland and supporting community or shared use deer larders in the rainforest and Caledonian pinewoods -funding at up to 40% of cost up to £50,000.
  • Target and improve access to grants for rhododendron control and follow up treatment;- extending the rhododendron control priorities to include priority rainforest areas, enabling clearance and initial follow up control in one application and funding survey for follow up work.
  • Encourage the production of native broadleaved trees with changes to the eligibility requirements to the Harvesting and Processing option for new and small scale nurseries.