Scotland’s rainforests are a biodiversity treasure
Along the western seaboard of Scotland, the largest remaining fragments of temperate rainforest in Europe cling on. Dr Andrew Weatherall and Dr Paul Walton say the Scottish government needs to back up its restoration pledge with a clear financial commitment
It was disappointing to read in the Guardian that “Britain has no rainforests to soak up carbon dioxide emissions” (The problem with blue carbon: can seagrass be replanted … by hand?, 5 November). Britain emphatically does have rainforests.
Along the western seaboard of Scotland, starting just north of Glasgow, the largest remaining fragments of temperate rainforest in Europe cling on. Under massive pressure from excessive grazing killing young trees, and rapidly spreading invasive non-native rhododendron, these fragments remain a precious carbon store and a globally important, incredibly beautiful, biodiversity treasure. Rainforest fragments also remain in the west of Wales and England.
The Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use (Cop26: world leaders agree deal to end deforestation, 1 November) made a global commitment to conserve and restore forest ecosystems. That day, Scotland’s environment minister, Mairi McAllan, restated a commitment to restore and expand Scotland’s rainforest as part of investment in the natural economy.
On Sunday, indigenous Amazonian representatives visited Cormonachan forest in Argyll for a rainforest blessing, linking the hopes and challenges of tropical and temperate rainforests. If the Scottish government now commits concrete financial and operational resources to fulfil its promise and deliver genuine ecosystem restoration for our own rainforest, perhaps that leadership will emerge, and those hopes will be rekindled.
Dr Andrew Weatherall
Principal policy officer (woodlands and forestry), RSPB
Dr Paul Walton
Head of habitats and species (Scotland), RSPB