18 Apr 2023

New Action Co-ordinator for Scotland’s Rainforest

John Risby has been appointed as Rainforest Action Co-ordinator.

In this new role, John will be working with a range of partners to help protect and restore Scotland’s rainforest, located down the west coast of Scotland.

Working within Scottish Forestry, but facilitating broad co-ordination and action, John will develop a strategic approach to restore and expand the rainforest.

These native woodlands are internationally important with some of the world’s rarest bryophytes and lichens found amongst its trees, boulders and ravines.

Announcing the appointment, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands, Mairi Gougeon said:

“I am delighted to be announcing the appointment of John Risby as Scotland’s Rainforest Action Co-ordinator.

“For the last 14 years John has been Scottish Forestry’s Highland and Islands Conservator, responsible for a large part of the rainforest area. He brings a wealth of experience in protecting and restoring these precious and magical places which are hugely important for biodiversity as well as culture and heritage.

“John will be drawing together the wide range of work which is already underway to develop a strategic approach to expand and restore the rainforest. Much progress has already been made with the Alliance for Scotland’s Rainforest, working with us to achieve this.”

The Scottish Government recently awarded £1.3 million to Forestry and Land Scotland to enable them to tackle rhododendron and deer within the rainforest areas that the agency manage.

The rainforest consists of ancient oak, birch, ash, native pine and hazel woodlands. The high levels of rainfall and relatively mild year-round temperatures gives the woodlands their unique characteristics.

The main threats to the rainforest comes from invasive non-native plants such as rhododendron, and from the damaging effects of deer browsing.

John Risby added:

“It is essential that these unique woodlands are protected, conserved and expanded for future generations and we ensure the benefits they can provide to local communities are realised.

“There’s already so much fantastic work going on by so many organisations, communities, woodland owners and crofters around Scotland’s rainforest. I look forward to working with all parties to consolidate this and prepare a plan of action when I take up the post in the near future.”

John will work across the number of agencies, private landowners, charities and wider stakeholders to develop a co-ordinated plan of action to protect and restore Scotland’s rainforest.